Best Cornerbacks of All Time – Who Makes It to Top 10 in NFL?
In the modern NFL league, cornerbacks remain the most critical defensive players on the field, and nobody can deny this fact.
The best cornerbacks of all time discussed in the sections that follow are known for their superior defensive performance.
The greatest cornerbacks of all time are also very fast and rather intimidating on the field. In addition, most NFL fans would agree that having a superior cornerback is one of the most important parts of every successful team’s play and defense.
It seems that every generation of NFL players produces a lineup of elite cornerbacks, so the list of the best cornerbacks in NFL history is rather long.
It is led by the famous name of Deion Sanders, regarded as the best cornerback of all time.
Our list of the top 10 cornerbacks of all time features other highly successful NFL defensive players we discuss in the sections that follow, so make sure you stick around.
Image courtesy of patriots.com
Ty Law appears on our list of the top 10 cornerbacks of all time in the tenth place. You should not be surprised, considering that Ty Law had many special moments during his extremely fruitful career.
Tajuan Edward was born on the 10th of February in 1974 in Pennsylvania. He spent fifteen seasons playing in the NFL. He played the position of cornerback for the New England Patriots between 1005 and 2004.
Ty also spent one season playing for the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, and Denver Broncos.
One of the best cornerbacks of all time was on top of the league’s statistics in interceptions two times, in 1998 and 2005. The three-time Super Bowl champion started his college career playing for the University of Michigan.
After his junior year, Ty Law left the college team to enter the NFL Draft in 1995, primarily due to financial issues.
He finished his college playing career with 17 defended passes and 154 tackles. He was drafted into the NFL by the New England Patriots in 1995 after signing a five-year contract.
Law retired back in 2009 with 838 tackles, 169 pass deflections, 53 interceptions, and 7 touchdowns. Ty Law was included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in 2019.
After leaving the NFL, Ty Law established entertainment facilities operating under the name of Launch Trampoline Park.
Image courtesy of Bleacher Report
Next on our list of the top 10 cornerbacks of all time, we have Aeneas Williams. The fifty-four-year-old (as of 2023) Aeneas Williams was born on Jan 29, 1968, in New Orleans. He spent fourteen seasons playing in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams.
After finishing high school, he enrolled at Southern University, where he played college football during his junior year.
His professional NFL career kicked off during the NFL 1991 Draft when he joined the Arizona Cardinals, where he would stay for ten years.
In 2001, he joined St. Louis Tams, where he played for three years before retiring from the sport.
Despite his teams not being at the top of the league’s ladder, amazing Aeneas Williams established himself as one of the greatest cornerbacks of all time.
We should note that Aeneas Williams led the league in interceptions during his second season in the NFL.
In 2000, he received the Bart Starr Award and the Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor. He retired in 2004 with 13 touchdowns, 795 tackles, 55 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles.
Discussing the best cornerbacks of all time, we also have to mention Darrell Green. Green is often regarded as the most versatile defensive player in the modern era.
In just four years, amazing Darrell Green secured his team Washington Redskins two Super Bowl titles.
The two-time Super Bowl winner was born on the Feb 15, 1960 in Houston, Texas. After finishing high school, he enrolled at Texas A&I University, where he ran track and played football.
Green entered the NFL Draft in 1983, where he was selected by the Washington Redskins.
He went on playing for the team between 1983 and 2002, when he retired from the sport. Between 1983 and 2002, Green missed only twenty-five games.
Darrell Green was named the NFL Man of the Year in 1996, and he received the Bart Starr Award one year later.
Amazing Green also holds the NFL record for the most consecutive seasons finished with an interception (19). He completed his extremely successful career with 1,159 tackles, 54 interceptions, and 6 touchdowns.
After retiring from the sport, he focused on his career in politics and the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation he founded back in 1988.
Green is also managing his professional services company alongside working at George Mason University as an athletic director.
Image courtesy of packers.com
Charles Woodson spent eighteen seasons playing in the NFL for two teams, the Oakland Raiders and the Green Bay Packers. The NFL Defensive Player of the Year 2009 was born on the Oct 7, 1976 in Fremont, Ohio.
He was coached by Lloyd Carr during his time at the University of Michigan. In 1997, Woodson received the Heisman Trophy.
His career in the NFL kicked off during the NFL 1998 draft, where he was selected by the Oakland Raiders.
Following the competition of his rookie season, the Associated Press named him the NFL Defensive Rookie of the season.
He finished that season with 64 tackles. Fast forward to 2009, he led the league with three defensive touchdowns and nine interceptions.
One of the greatest games he had was the matchup from 2002 against famed Brady. While the New England Patriots won the shiniest Super Bowl title that season, Charles Woodson became the Super Bowl XLV champion with the Green Bay Packers.
Charles Woodson retired back in 2015 after eighteen seasons in the NFL. He finished his career with 13 defensive touchdowns, 155 deflected passes, 64 interceptions, 33 forced fumbles, and 1,105 total tackles.
Dick ‘’Night Train’’ Lane
Image courtesy of profootballhof.com
One of the greatest cornerbacks of all time, famed Richard Lane, better known as Dick Night Train Lane, was born on the April 16, 1928 in Austin, Texas.
Night Train Lane spent fourteen seasons in the NFL playing for the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, and Detroit Lions.
He was drafted into the NFL after graduating from college in 1952 by the Los Angeles Rams. He had an amazing rookie season where he played all twelve regular games.
That season, Lane also broke the league’s record for most interceptions in a season (14).
Back in the day, he was also on top of the league with two touchdown-returned interceptions and 298 interception return yards.
Two years after joining the Rams, Night Train Lane went to the Chicago Cardinals, where he played until 1959.
He also spent five seasons playing for the Detroit Lions between 1960 and 1965. The seven-time Pro Bowler still holds the NFL record for the most interceptions in a single season.
He retired from the sport with 157 games played, 68 interceptions, 1,207 interception return yards, and 6 touchdowns.
Dick ”Night Train” Lane passed away on the Jan 29, 2002 at the age of seventy-three. The exact cause of death was never released. However, his family believes he died due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy he sustained after years of playing football.
Image courtesy of Bleacher Report
The twelve-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey also deserves a spot on our list of the top 10 cornerbacks of all time.
The forty-four-year-old Champ Bailey was born on the Jun 22, 1978 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Before joining the NFL ranks, Bailey played college football for the famed team Georgia Bulldogs.
He was also a member of the university’s track and field team but decided to focus more on his football career.
Champ Bailey was drafted into the NFL in 1999, where he was selected by the Washington Redskins. He signed a five-year contract with the team.
The twelve-time Pro Bowler was on top of the league’s ranks back in 2006 with ten interceptions. Champ Bailey also holds the NFL record for the most passes defended (203). This is one of the many others reasons behind his reputation as one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history.
He retired from the sport back in 2014 with 908 tackles, 203 defended passes, 52 interceptions, and 7 forced fumbles.
Champ Bailey still holds the Pro Bowl record for the most career interceptions (4) and the NFL record for the youngest player to intercept three passes in a single game.
Image courtesy of steelcityunderground.com
Next on the list of the greatest cornerbacks of all time, we have Mel Blount. Blount made a name for himself playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers for thirteen years, from 1970 to 1983, when he retired from the sport.
Mel Blount was born on the April 10, 1948 in Vidalia, Georgia. After finishing high school, he accepted a scholarship offered by Southern University in Louisiana.
Then, he entered the NFL Draft in 1970 and was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team were dominating the league thanks to Mel’s superior defensive abilities.
During his time in the NFL, the four-time Super Bowl champion was also praised for his ability to easily adjust coverage tactics and remain mentally strong no matter what was going on on the field.
He also made receivers’ tasks way more challenging due to his imposing six-foot-three frame.
Aside from leading his team to three Super Bowl titles, amazing Blount was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1975. He also finished the 1975 season leading in interceptions.
After retiring from the sport in 1983, he was inducted into the Pittsburgh Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mel’s superior career finished with 57 interceptions, 736 interception yards, and 2 touchdowns. Shortly after leaving the Steelers, Mel was hired by the league’s management in the position of the Director of Player Relations. After leaving the NFL for good, he focused on charity work.
Image courtesy of NFL.com
Darrelle Revis is considered by many the best CB of all time, but he is third-placed on our list of the best cornerbacks of all time.
The thirty-seven-year-old Darrelle Revis was born on the Jul 14, 1985 in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.
He played the position of cornerback for eleven seasons, starting his career with the New York Jets in 2007. He also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs.
The seven-time Pro Bowler may not have the greatest statistics, at least when compared to other famous NFL cornerbacks. However, nobody can deny he dominated the league during his era.
Revis started his career playing college football at the University of Pittsburgh.
During his rookie season, he was a starter in eleven of twelve games. He entered the NFL Draft in 2007, and he was selected by the New York Jets, where he remained until 2012.
During his prime, he was the biggest nightmare of most receivers, including Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss.
The one-time Super Bowl champion spent the vast majority of his professional career playing for the New York Jets. He also spent one season playing for Tampa Bay, as well as one season playing for the New England Patriots.
Darrelle Revis retired from the sport in 2017 with 497 total tackles, 29 interceptions, 6 forced fumbles, 3 defensive touchdowns, and 139 deflected passes.
Considered by many the best cornerback ever, Rod Woodson appears second on our list of the best cornerbacks in NFL history with rather impressive statistics. Rod Woodson was born on the March 10, 1965 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
He played in the NFL for seventeen seasons, starting his career in 1987 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also played for the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, and Oakland Raiders.
Widely considered the best CB of all time, Rod Woodson started his college football career at Purdue University.
Aside from playing the position of cornerback, Woodson also played as a kick returner for the college team. In the last game played for the team, he collected over 150 combined receiving and rushing yards, alongside ten tackles.
With thirteen records set for the college team, Rod Woodson was inducted into the Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame back in 2003. His career in the NFL kicked off in 1987 when he was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His career skyrocketed during the 90s, and this is why Woodson is considered by many the best cornerback ever praised for his tackling and rushing abilities.
During his time playing for the Steelers, Woodson scored six defensive touchdowns and twenty forced fumbles.
Rod Woodson holds the NFL record for the most career interceptions returned for TDs (12). The one-time Super Bowl champion was also named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993, and he made it to the First-Team All-Pro six times during his career.
The eleven-time Pro Bowler was also two times NFL leader in interceptions in 1999 and 2002. He retired from the sport with 1,049 tackles, 71 interceptions, 17 touchdowns, and 20 forced fumbles.
At the moment, Rod Woodson works for the Vegas Vipers as the general manager and head coach. From 2010 until 2017, he also coached several other teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, and Denver Broncos.
Image courtesy of NFL.com
This leads us to Deion Sanders, the best cornerback of all time based on his impressive career statistics and other accomplishments. Deion Sanders was born on the August 9, 1967 in Fort Myers, Florida.
With 1,331 interception yards and 54 interceptions at the end of his extremely fruitful career, it is no wonder Sanders is considered the best cornerback ever.
He spent four seasons playing for the Atlanta Falcons and also competed for the San Francisco 49ers one season.
Sanders also played for the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens before retiring from the sport in 2005. The best CB of all time by statistics started his career playing for Florida States University back in the 80s.
Coached by famed Bobby Bowden, it was not long before young Sanders found his way to the Seminoles’ first team. With Sanders on board, the team won a conference championship.
When it comes to his professional NFL career, he joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1989, and he remained on the team for four years until 1993. He finished his career in Atlanta with 24 intercepted yards and three returned touchdowns.
Sanders was also at the top of the league’s ranks with 1,067 yards that season. After spending five seasons with the Falcons, Sanders signed for the San Francisco 49ers.
This was probably one of his best seasons in the NFL, with a record of six interceptions and three touchdowns.
That season, he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Following his amazing success with the San Francisco 49ers, Sanders joined the Dallas Cowboys, and he remained on the team for four years until 1999.
He was one of the main reasons behind the Cowboys winning their third Super Bowl title in a match with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cowboys won 27 – 17, and Sanders spectacularly returned a punt for eleven yards.
Then, he signed for the Washington Redskins in 2000, and he remained on the theme only one season. After leaving the Redskins, five teams wanted to sign him, but he accepted the offer by the Baltimore Ravens.
He played for the Ravens until his retirement in 2005. The two-time Super Bowl champion made it to the First-Team All-Pro six times.
The eight-time Pro Bowler was also the NFL kickoff return leader in 1992. Sanders also received the Jim Thorpe Award back in 1988.
Sanders finished his superior career in the NFL with 54 interceptions, 1,331 interception yards, 60 receptions, 784 receiving yards, and 22 touchdowns. Today (2023), he is the head coach for the Colorado Buffaloes team.
Between 2012 and 2022, he also worked as a coach for several other teams, including the Jackson State and Trinity Christian School football teams.