Top 10 Best Cornerbacks in NFL History

Cornerbacks are the real MVPs of football, with their killer combo of speed, agility, and smarts. They've got a tough job: they have to stop the other team's best receivers, intercept passes, and sometimes even rush the quarterback.

When you're talking about the best of the best, there's a lot to consider. It's not just about being fast or strong. They've got to be able to read the quarterback, guess where the ball's going, and get there super fast. The top cornerbacks can do amazing things with the ball, like knocking down passes or making game-changing interceptions. They've also got to be tough and good at tackling, because sometimes they're the last ones who can stop a run.
The Top Ten
1 Deion Sanders Deion Luywnn Sanders, Sr. is a former American football and former American baseball player, who works as an analyst for CBS Sports and the NFL Network.

Speed, awareness, intelligence, and flash. There was nothing Sanders couldn't do. As for the tackling, he always said cornerbacks don't get paid to tackle, they get paid to cover. And he did just that.

His interception totals would be higher if quarterbacks had thrown to his side more often. No one else has ever changed the game or position like Deion.

What Lawrence Taylor was to the linebacker position, Deion Sanders was to the cornerback position and more. The man made the CB position a glamour position. I have seen some great DBs in my time, but none has ever come with the swag that Deion brought. He was more pure substance than hype.

If Deion were playing today, he could still take out the best. Just ask Jerry Rice and Mike Irvin. #21 prime time

2 Champ Bailey

Lined up against the best receiver all over the field from his second year through 2012, there is absolutely no other cornerback who has ever done that for so long. He also had the best season ever for a cornerback in 2006. If you had to pick a corner to start your franchise, this would be him because no other corner did what he did for as long as he did it.

Rod Woodson had to move to safety much earlier, and Deion was mediocre towards the end and couldn't tackle. Rod and Deion in their prime were equal but cannot compare to Champ's body of work and production over time. Like I said, that's because he lined up against the best for 12 years, all by himself. Other corners can say they did that for maybe 5-6 years.

3 Rod Woodson

He's a complete cornerback. He could cover in man, a true shutdown corner. He could go across the middle playing zone. He could stop the run, a tackling machine, and he could go sack the quarterback.

There was no weak part of his game. He dominated every aspect of cornerback and the safety position, undeniably the best of all time.

He is the best cornerback ever. He can cover man to man. He can play zone defense just as well as any cornerback in NFL history. He's also very good at tackling. Not to mention he is a great safety.

On top of all of that, he's third all-time in interceptions and in the Hall of Fame.

4 Charles Woodson Charles Woodson is a former American football cornerback and free safety. He played college football for Michigan, where he led the Wolverines to a national championship in 1997. Woodson, a "two-way player" who played both offense and defense, won the Heisman Trophy in the same year, becoming the second,... read more

The position of cornerback is more than just shutting down wide outs. People tend to forget that some teams' best receivers were slot receivers and tight ends. Woodson covered them all. Revis, Bailey, Sanders, etc., would cover a Jason Witten-like skilled tight end.

Champ Bailey fumbled the ball four times and lost two in 2002 and was never utilized as a punt returner again. Woodson, at 38, was utilized on the hands team for a squib kick and as a punt returner in bad weather to secure what few wins Oakland had in 2014. When a player can be utilized as a blitzer and cover anybody on the field who is a playmaker, that is the total package for what the position of cornerback is.

5 Mel Blount

Mel Blount was the complete package. He helped the Steel Curtain defense rush the quarterback with impunity while he locked down receivers. It was Blount who opened the can of worms on just how spoiled and whiny offensive players are. Nobody, and I mean nobody, would change the rules in today's football for the defense because Tom Brady dominates the sport.

The NFL had to make a rule to prevent Mel Blount from overpowering wide receivers. He was big, fast, and physical, and is far better than anyone else on this list.

How is Deion Sanders number 1? That guy was afraid to tackle. I'm sure he'd excel in today's NFL where Roger Goodell doesn't allow defensive backs to hit anyone anymore. Deion is the number 1 touch football corner. But for real football, it's all Mel Blount!

6 Darrell Green

The fastest NFL player I've ever seen and the most underrated and underappreciated cornerback ever. A fantastic shutdown corner who could line up anywhere on the field against anyone.

Being able to survive 20 years in the NFL, despite being only 5'8 with questionable hands, should tell you everything you need to know. Nobody had longevity like that at that position, or probably any non-special teams position, and there was a reason. If he was bigger with better hands, he would've been unquestionably the best cornerback of all time. Nevertheless, he doesn't get the respect he deserves.

7 Darrelle Revis Darrelle Shavar Revis is an American football cornerback who currently plays for the New York Jets in the National Football League.

Revis, even though he had Cromartie to help him out a lot along the way, never really had a great pass rush or even help from a decent safety. He managed to make the most out of what he had, shutting down receivers like Megatron, Reggie Wayne, Dez Bryant, Randy Moss (with the exception of once), Chad Johnson/Ochocinco, Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Julio Jones, and Mike Wallace.

I think you get the point. There isn't a single "#1" receiver that Revis hasn't shut down.

Easily the best lockdown cornerback in the game. The fact that he does not have many interceptions is a good thing, reflecting that QBs are afraid to throw to him.

If he had a supporting cast like Sherman, they would probably throw to him maybe once a game, and those would be interceptions.

8 Dick "Night Train" Lane

Maybe the best that ever played? I put him here because I wasn't around to watch him, and all I have are films. And from that, you can see he was dominating at his position.

Again, lower on my list because I never saw him firsthand (I'm 48).

I can't understand these people who vote for these lists. First, before you vote, you should know your football, period. Dick "Night Train" Lane revolutionized the cornerback position. There were so many rule changes because of this guy, such as facemask/clothesline, etc.

Then, to have Mel Blount at 8... shaking my head. I am a huge Steelers hater (Cowboys diehard), but you have to recognize greatness. He changed the game just as Mr. Lane did. None, and I mean none, of these receivers today could last in either era that Lane or Blount played in with the way the rules were. The top 5 should have gone: (1) Dick Lane, (2) Mel Blount, (3) Neon Deion, (4) Rod Woodson, (5) Ronnie Lott.

9 Mike Haynes

The bump-run coverage was his specialty. Quarterbacks also stopped throwing to his side of the field because of his cornerback skills.

Greatest cover corner of all time. He didn't have to tell everyone how great he was. He showed it on the field.

Mike Haynes reminds me of the picture in the dictionary if you look up CB. Not the greatest athlete at the position but an absolute master of it.

10 Richard Sherman Richard Kevin Sherman is an American football cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League.

Sherman is arguably the most intelligent cornerback of all time. For as much as he trash-talks, he's one of the very few who can back it up. He's forced quarterbacks to completely avoid his side of the field during games.

Even though his presence from the Seattle days is long gone, he still made an impact with the 49ers, helping them get to the Super Bowl before losing to the Chiefs. He's still a passionate, do-or-die player. Given he's already at 30+ interceptions, he's definitely made his imprint on the game of football. L.O.B.

The Contenders
11 Willie Brown

Old Man Willie! Picking off Fran Tarkenton and returning for a touchdown in the Super Bowl! On top of that, he's a Hall of Famer. Vote for this legend!

Only ranked where he is because most people in this poll never saw him play. Intensity and commitment to being the best made him the best ever.

The best. Defensive coaches were so afraid of him they had one rule: never throw into his zone or man coverage. One season, only 7 passes were attempted in his zone/man coverage all season.

Result: 1 completion, 4 picks, and 2 knockdowns.

12 Ty Law

Ty was an elite corner who never got as much credit as he deserved because he was on a great Patriot defense and was overshadowed by guys like Champ Bailey. This guy could shut down great receivers, and he was clutch.

Just look at his playoff performances against Manning and in Super Bowls.

Best-ever big-game cornerback in the history of the NFL! Took an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl against K. Warner, who was the premier QB from '99 to '01, while covering I. Bruce.

In two playoff games while covering M. Harrison, he picked P. Manning 5 times while holding Harrison to 5 catches for meager yards in his prime. Has anybody picked the best while covering the best as much as Law? No.

13 Aeneas Williams

Some of these guys ranked ahead of him aren't even in his league. He's not a top-five all-time guy, but at least top 15.

Ask Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice who shut them down. Aeneas Williams is one of the top cornerbacks of all time.

14 Nnamdi Asomugha

Best cornerback from 2007 to 2010, in which he was better than Revis, Bailey, and Woodson (3 HOFers). He has shut down Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald (YouTube that matchup), and gave Steve Smith the worst game of his career (1 catch for 9 yards).

He had a season of only allowing 8 receptions in man coverage. To top it off, the Raiders are a horrible team.

15 Lester Hayes

Before there was Deion and Reggie, there was my eminent domain. When you mention shutdown corners, look at this man. He can tackle, play bump and run, and cover.

Remember Super Bowl XVIII and the shutdown he and Mike Haynes did on those Redskins WRs? And let's not forget helping ground Air Coryell.

My first CB hero! Lester was everything at the position. He could swallow up the field with his range and speed, and his ability to get interceptions (stick-um!) was outstanding. Great CB.

If you know the career of Lester, the most feared CB in his era. Coaches demanded their QBs not to throw in his direction, with one QB being benched for doing so in the first quarter of a game. As one teammate said, "He made us look better than we were. We could roll our defense to the opposite side of the field because we knew Lester had his side shut down."

Why is he not in the HOF?

16 Ronde Barber

Ronde Barber is disgustingly underrated. He should be top 10 overall. He has the most sacks of any cornerback in NFL history (28), plus he has 47 career interceptions, 1,200+ tackles, 15 forced fumbles, and 14 defensive touchdowns.

He could've been the first-ever defensive player with 40 interceptions and 30 sacks, and for an undersized cornerback (5'10"), that's almost superhuman. Plus, he was a key part of one of the greatest NFL defenses in history (Tampa 2). He had the speed, talent, dedication, and, most importantly, the intelligence to cover his assignments (playing against guys like Randy Moss, Steve Smith, T.O., etc.). To me, he's not only a Hall of Famer but arguably the most complete cornerback in NFL history.

17 Charles Tillman

Nobody forced turnovers like he did. He outpaced most linebackers and defensive ends for forced fumbles. So good he forced 4 in one game. So underrated.

I miss "Peanut" playing for the Bears. He was such a fun player to watch and a turnover machine!

18 Ellis Hobbs
19 Cortland Finnegan
20 Jimmy Johnson

SI's pick on their all-time team. Rafer Johnson's brother, also an Olympian track star. Remember him shutting down a wideout when he had his arm in a cast!

21 Ronnie Lott
22 Patrick Peterson Patrick Peterson is an American football cornerback and return specialist for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League.

Beyond overrated. Sure, he's good, but he's pitifully overrated and has gotten roasted by middling wide receivers on more than one occasion.

Gave up one touchdown this year and was on that ridiculous Hail Mary! This dude has shut down haters and is far leagues above Sherman now!

He's way better than Sherman. Pat-P should be in the spot Sherman is in. Sherman is only good at zone. He gets burned almost every deep route. Pat-P should be at least in the top 10.

23 Herb Adderley

He was the first player in Super Bowl history to get a defensive touchdown. The original shutdown cornerback.

24 Albert Lewis

Lewis played for 16 seasons. Standing 6-2 with 4.4 speed, Lewis had a long reach and a big leap. He made 20 interceptions in his first 4 seasons.

After that, opposing quarterbacks avoided throwing the ball in his direction. He was named the Chiefs MVP for the 1986 season and was a 4-time Pro Bowl selection (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990), as well as 1st Team All-Pro (1989, 1990). Voted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame, he was also a specialist at blocking kicks.

He's the best! I've met him in person too!

25 DeAngelo Hall
8Load More
PSearch List