While current Green Bay HC Matt LaFleur is certainly an offensive specialist, the Packers' defense ranked 13th in yards per game in 2023. His defense ranked as high as third in 2020 in the same category, proving that offensive head coaches can potentially motivate the other side of the ball as well.

How about historically? Our list of the 10 best Packers defensive players of all time nearly includes 10 Pro Football Hall of Famers. Keep reading to find out who makes the cut in this Betway Insider top 10.

As usual, all stats are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and are updated through the end of the 2023 regular season.

Who is on the Green Bay Packers starting defensive line for the 2023 NFL season?

The starting defensive line for the Packers' 2023 defense includes DEs Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary alongside DTs TJ Slaton and Devonte Wyatt.

Green Bay Packers Defensive Line History

The Packers' defensive line peaked in the 1960s: stars like Henry Jordan and Willie Davis lined up to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

Of course, a guy named Reggie White came around in the 1990s and did even more damage.

Famous Green Bay Packers Defensive Players

Other famous defensive players for the Packers include Hall of Famers in the secondary like CB Charles Woodson and S Leroy Butler.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Green Bay Packers Defensive Players of all time

  1. Clay Matthews, 2009-2017

Position: Outside Linebacker

We’ll start with a recent hit: former Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. The outside linebacker was an immediate hit after Green Bay took him in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, earning Pro Bowl honors in each of his first four seasons.

Not only does Matthews rank second on the franchise’s all-time sack leaderboard, but he also has the most sacks in Packers playoff history. His 11.0 postseason sacks are the sixth most in NFL history.

Matthews was a 6x Pro Bowler, 1x First-team All-Pro, and Super Bowl XLV champion in Green Bay.

  1. Henry Jordan, 1959-1969

Position: Defensive Tackle

Spoiler: there are going to be a lot of 1960s Packers on this list. The first up is former Green Bay DT Henry Jordan, who was a fixture in the Packers starting defense for the entire decade.

Both a big part of the Packers rushing defense and pass-rush, Jordan earned five-straight First-team All-Pro appearances from 1960-1964. He managed to record 59.5 career unofficial sacks -- impressive for a defensive tackle of that era.

More importantly, Jordan was a winner in Green Bay: he claimed four NFL titles and two Super Bowls. Unsurprisingly, he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  1. Willie Davis, 1960-1969

Position: Defensive Line

The Packers' defensive roster in the 1960s was particularly stocked in the front 7. Pro Football Hall of Fame DE Willie Davis slotted next to Henry Jordan on the Packers defensive line to cause havoc to opposing offenses.

Davis was a 5x First-team All-Pro, 5x NFL Champion, and 2x Super Bowl title winner who also earned a spot on the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade team (which is why he slots ahead of Jordan on this list). He’s one of the best Packers defensive linemen of all time.

  1. Bobby Dillon, 1952-1959

Position: Safety

Who has the most interceptions in Packers history? The answer is former safety Bobby Dillion, who picked off an impressive 52 passes in just eight seasons in Green Bay.

Unfortunately, the team didn’t experience much success with Dillon, only winning titles following his retirement in 1959. Don’t fault Dillon, he was a 4x First-team All-Pro selection.

You also can’t blame Dillon for retiring early: the man played his entire career with a glass eye.

  1. LeRoy Butler, 1990-2001

Position: Safety

Who invented the Lambeau Leap? The answer is former Packers S LeRoy Butler, who scored a handful of pick-6s in his heyday.

Butler finally got his Hall of Fame flowers in 2022, joining a cavalry of other Green Bay legends already with busts in Canton. He was one of the most dominant defensive backs of his era, earning four First-team All-Pro Honors and a spot on the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade team.

Butler played in 14 playoff games for the Packers and helped Green Bay win Super Bowl XXXI.

  1. Charles Woodson, 2006-2012

Position: Cornerback/Safety

Perhaps former Packers CB Charles Woodson is remembered for his 11-year stint as an Oakland Raider. However, his seven-year stint in Green Bay was littered with team success and individual accolades.

Even though he didn’t move to Green Bay until he was 30, Woodson still managed two First-team All-Pro nods and three Pro Bowl spots. He led the NFL twice in interceptions while in Green Bay, and his nine-pick haul in 2009 was enough to help win NFL Defensive Player of the Year

The Pro Football Hall of Famer also played a key part of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV run.

  1. Willie Wood, 1960-1971

Position: Safety

Former Packers S Willie Wood has the most Pro Bowl nods of any Packers defensive player, tallying an impressive eight over his 12-year Green Bay career. Considering he joined the team as an undrafted rookie quarterback, Wood did pretty well for himself.

The 5x NFL Champion and 5x First-team All-Pro was the key cog in the secondary for the 1960s Packers. He recorded 48 picks in Green Bay to help him earn a spot on the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade team. Naturally, Wood is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  1. Herb Adderley, 1961-1969

Position: Cornerback

Oh look, another past Packers defensive star from the 1960s. This time it’s CB Herb Adderlay, who won Super Bowls with both the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. His prime came in Green Bay -- he was a 5x NFL Champion and 4x First-team All-Pro at Lambeau.

The Green Bay Packers official site ranked Adderley as the best defensive player in franchise history. Adderley has a credible case -- the Pro Football Hall of Famer and NFL 1960s All-Decade member is widely considered one of the best CBs in NFL history. He slots in at #3 on our list.

  1. Ray Nitschke, 1958-1972

Position: Linebacker

Former Packers LB Ray Nitschke got a lot of overdue recognition once his career was finished. The man with the most career games played on the defensive side of the ball for Green Bay was somehow just a 2x First-team All-Pro and 1x Pro Bowler during his 15-year Packers career. He also has a spot on the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade team.

More importantly, Nitschke was a 5x NFL Champion and 2x Super Bowl Champion, He received most of his individual accolades after retiring; aside from a deserved spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Nitschke is also a member of the NFL’s 50th, 75th, and 100th-anniversary all-time teams.

  1. Reggie White, 1993-1998

Position: Defensive End

Why is former Green Bay DE Reggie White the greatest defensive player in Packers history? Here’s the Green Bay resume for the man known as the “Minister of Defense” in just six seasons for the Packers:

  • Super Bowl XXXI Champion
  • 1998 NFL Defensive Player of the Year (aged 37)
  • 2x First-team All-Pro, 6x Pro Bowler
  • Member of the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary team, Pro Football Hall of Famer

White tops both this list AND would check at #1 for the best Philadelphia Eagles defenders of all time. However, Packers fans will certainly claim him as one of their own.

Parameters of Rankings

Rankings are made based on a combination of 1) individual accomplishments, 2) team success, 3) franchise legacy, and 4) personal accolades.


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