LSU Football: The 25 Greatest Defensive Players in Tigers History
The LSU Tigers have become known as a perennial defensive powerhouse, consistently producing NFL caliber players on the defensive line and secondary.
There is no doubt that the Tigers' two recent championship seasons were largely fueled by stellar play on the defensive side of the ball, and throughout LSU history, even in down times, the defense has always been respected.
Loaded with All-Americans and NFL draft picks, the following are the best of the best in LSU history.
A senior leader on the 2007 BCS National Championship team, Jackson finished his senior season with 42 tackles and five interceptions and earned first-team All-SEC honors at defensive back.
Jackson wrapped up his career as a Tiger with an interception and two tackles in a victory over Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game.
A defensive end from 2001-2003, Marquise Hill was a large part of a dominant defensive line for the Tigers’ 2003 National Championship team.
Drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round, Hill spent three seasons in the NFL before tragically passing away after falling off a jet-ski in Lake Pontchartrain in May 2007.
Jarvis Green was one of LSU’s all-time sack masters. As a freshman, Green started 10 games and set an LSU freshmen record with eight sacks.
Green went on to finish fourth in LSU history with a total of 20 sacks in his career.
Green was picked in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
Largely overlooked due to the fact that he played alongside Marcus Spears, Lavalais was quietly disruptive to opposing offenses with 202 tackles and 12 sacks in his 41 starts as a Tiger.
Lavalais was a huge part of a dominant 2003 defense that led LSU to the BCS National Championship.
Lavalais was named All-SEC and All-America in his senior year and went on to be drafted by the Falcons in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Widely regarded as one of LSU’s best cornerbacks, Mike Williams also made history as he was the first African-American football player in LSU history to letter.
Williams also received All-SEC honors in 1973 and 1974 and All-American honors in 1974.
Williams went on to be selected 22nd overall in the 1975 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.
Karl Dunbar was one of the great defensive linemen in LSU history. A three-year starter and four-year letterman, Dunbar lived in the opponents’ backfields.
In his career, Dunbar had 11 sacks and 22 tackles for loss and earned All-SEC honors as a defensive lineman.
After a seven-year NFL career, Dunbar made a return to LSU in 2000 where he served as LSU's assistant strength and conditioning coordinator from 2000-01.
Webster came to LSU as a wide receiver, but Nick Saban, a secondary genius, turned him into one of the best cornerbacks in Tiger history.
Webster received All-America honors in 2003 and 2004.
After a successful career at LSU, Webster was drafted in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the New York Giants.
After a shaky start to his NFL career that landed him on special teams, Webster redeemed himself and went on to be an integral part of the 2007 Giants that won the Super Bowl.
The Giants went on to offer the former Tiger cornerback a long-term contract extension.
One of LSU’s greatest defensive linemen, Northern had the unfortunate luck of playing at a time when the Tigers were not very good.
The Defensive MVP of the 1995 Independence Bowl, Northern went on to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft.
Northern played four seasons for the Bills and one for the Vikings before ending his career in 2000.
Mark Roman was SEC Freshmen Defensive Player of the year in 1996.
Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 2000 Draft, Roman went on to play for the Packers and 49ers.
One of the greats in a long list of outstanding defensive linemen in Tiger history, Wiley received many honors in his four years at LSU.
Wiley was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive player. He was also an Honorable Mention All-American in 1997, First-Team All-SEC in 1996 and 1997 and Second-Team All-SEC in 1995.
Wiley gave meaning to the term “student athlete.” In 1996, he was given the Jesse Owens award, an honor given to LSU’s African-American athlete with the highest GPA.
Another dominant defensive tackle, Anthony “Booger” McFarland was among the best the Tigers have ever seen. Living in the backfield, McFarland was a consistent disruption to opposing offenses.
McFarland received AP All-American honors in 1998 and went on to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft.
McFarland has won two Super Bowls in his nine years in the NFL.
Defensive end Ron Estay, inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, was one of LSU’s greatest defensive players of all time.
Estay, also known as Swampdog, was an American Football Coaches Association All-American in 1971 and went on to be drafted by the Denver Broncos.
Estay’s professional career was spent mostly with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
LaRon Landry made an instant impact at LSU as he started 10 games for the Tigers in route to a BCS National Championship title in 2003.
Landry earned freshmen All-SEC honors, Second-Team All-SEC honors and freshmen All-American honors with 80 tackles and two interceptions.
In his senior year, Landry earned All-American and All-SEC honors and was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award.
Landry was drafted by the Washington Redskins with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Widely considered one of the best linebackers to ever play for the LSU Tigers, Capone dominated the opposition in the early 1970s.
Capone was a two-time All-American and two-time All-SEC selection in 1972 and 1973.
In 1988, Capone was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Learning from two of the best in Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, Drake Nevis became one of the most dominating defensive linemen in college football.
Despite not seeing significant action until his junior season, Nevis finished his career with the Tigers with 10 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss.
In his senior season at LSU, Nevis earned several honors including First-Team All-America by CBSsports.com, Second-Team All-America by the AP, Walter Camp and Rivals.com and First-Team All-SEC.
Tyson Jackson, a significant figure on LSU’s 2007 National Championship team, ranks eighth among Tigers in career sacks with 18.5.
As a freshman, Jackson burst onto the scene, earning freshmen All-SEC honors by both the coaches and Sporting News.
Jackson was selected third overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.
Kelvin Sheppard is undoubtedly one of the greatest linebackers to play for the Tigers.
As a junior in 2009, Sheppard dominated and was among the best defensive players in the nation, accounting for 110 tackles with 8.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
Playing with defensive superstars like Drake Nevis and Patrick Peterson, Sheppard shared the spotlight graciously, but make no mistake about it, he was the leader of that team.
Sheppard will be highly sought after in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Kyle Williams, starting 33 games at defensive tackle for the Tigers, finished his career with 16.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss and 140 total tackles.
As a senior, Williams dominated offensive lines and recorded 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss on his way to earning Second-Team All-American honors.
Despite his dominance at LSU, Williams was not highly regards by NFL scouts, getting drafted in the fifth round by the Buffalo Bills, where he became a starter as a rookie.
In five NFL seasons, Williams has recorded 291 tackles and 14 sacks.
Al Richardson, an All-American in 1982 as a senior, is still the Tigers' all-time leader in tackles with 452.
Regarded as one of the best linebackers to ever play for the Tigers, Richardson also holds the single game tackle record with his dominant performance against South Carolina in 1982 when he accounted for 21 tackles.
A transfer from Mississippi Delta Community College, Claude Wroten only played 25 games for the Tigers, but he made the most of them accounting for 22.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.
First-Team All-SEC in both seasons as a Tiger, Wroten was one of the most dominant players in college football.
Wroten was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
Marcus Spears originally came to LSU as a tight end, but as a sophomore, moved to the defensive side of the ball and began his dominance.
In his first season on the defensive line, Spears recorded 46 tackles and three sacks while providing pressure on the quarterback 16 times.
As a junior, Spears led a dominant defense that brought LSU its first National Championship since 1958.
Spears received All-America honors as a senior and was drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, where he joined fellow Tiger Bradie James.
Glenn Dorsey learned from two of the best LSU defensive tackles in Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten.
As a sophomore, Dorsey, as part of a rotation with the two All-SEC tackles, compiled 28 tackles and three sacks.
Dorsey went on to earn All-America honors in his junior and senior seasons, finishing ninth in Heisman Trophy voting in his final season.
Dorsey was the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Lott Trophy, the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award. He is the only player to have won all four awards.
Dorsey was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Bradie James was by far the most dominant linebacker in LSU Tiger history, recording more than 400 tackles, including 154 in his senior season on his way to All-SEC and All-American honors.
James was the first LSU linebacker to receive All-SEC honors two consecutive years since Warren Capone in 1972-73.
James was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft and has been a leader on their defense ever since.
Tommy Casanova is the only three-time All-American in LSU history, earning the honor in all three of his years with the Tigers.
In 1971, Sports Illustrated featured the All-American on the cover with the headline "Tommy Casanova of LSU, Best Player in the Nation."
Casanova was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 1972 NFL Draft. He played six seasons for the Bengals, earning Pro-Bowl honors four times.
Widely regarded as the best defensive player to ever don the purple and gold, Patrick Peterson will be one of the most coveted players in the 2011 NFL draft.
Peterson was a luxury for the Tigers in his final two seasons, consistently shutting down the opponent's top receiving threats.
In 2010, Peterson was an All-American, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the winner of the Thorpe and Bednarik Awards.