Illinois: Dick Butkus
A surprising number of high-level players have come out of Illinois, but it’d be foolish to think that there’s anyone more prominent than Dick Butkus. He was one of the finest defensive players of his generation, twice winning NFL Defensive Players of the Year honors.
In fact, modern-day middle linebackers are still compared to Butkus, who was on the NFL All-Decade Team for both the 1960s and 1970s despite playing just nine seasons. He was a Pro Bowl selection and an All-Pro every year but his final season, as Butkus made an immediate impact in the NFL and played at a high level for his entire career.
Runners Up: Ray Nitschke, Steve Atwater, Donovan McNabb, Otto Graham