The 10 Best Cornerbacks of All Time in the NFL

Defense in American football requires strength, agility, speed, and vision. It is their job to stop the offense from winning. Having a strong defense increase the chance of winning.

Defense is distributed in several phases in NFL, and defensive backs are the last stage of defense. A defensive back consists of two cornerbacks who are responsible for covering the receiver, as well as blitzing and defending against the offense.

A good cornerback needs to have speed, agility, strength, and the ability to make rapid sharp turns. It may sound easy on paper but difficult to do in the field. Again, there are legends who excelled in this position and became examples of it.

So, in this article, we will introduce you to the ten best cornerbacks of all time in the NFL.

Best Cornerbacks of All Time

Cornerbacks are the part of defensive backs whose primary duty is to cover the receivers from catching the ball and thus keep the opposition from scoring. It requires intellect, talent, and vision. The combination of these skills is not easy to master, but these players mastered it with much grace.

Deion Sanders1989-2005
Rod Woodson1987-2003
Darrelle Revis2007-2017
Darrell Green1983-2002
Dick “Night Train” Lane1952-1965
Charles Woodson1998-2015
Mel Blount1970-1983
Champ Bailey1999-2014
Mel Renfro1964-1977
Ty Law1995-2009

1. Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders
Full NameDeion Luwynn Sanders Sr
Date of BirthAugust 9, 1967
Place of BirthFort Myers, Florida, U.S.
Height5 ft 11.75 in
Weight198 lb 
NFL Draft1989 (Atlanta Falcons, Round: 1 / Pick: 5)
TeamsAtlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, and Washington Redskins

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 2 times (XXIX, XXX)

First-team All-Pro: 6 times (1992–1994, 1996–1998)

Pro Bowl: 8 times (1991–1994, 1996–1999)

Defensive Player of the Year: 1 time (1994)

Since we are talking about cornerbacks, who is better than Deion Sanders, to begin with? Deion Sanders, also known as “Primetime” and “Neon Sanders,” is regarded as the greatest in his position.

Because of his great performance in college, he was picked at number five in the 1989 NFL draft. This 5 feet 11.75-inch athlete has a record of achieving the Super Bowl championship two times in his sixteen-year career in the NFL. For his excellent performance, he was awarded as the best NFL defensive Payer in 1994. 

Along with excellency at cornerback, he was also known as a wide receiver. Moreover, this multitalented American footballer had played Nine Seasons in the MLB as an outfielder.

After his retirement, he started his coaching career and is now the head coach for The Colorado Buffaloes football.

Career stats of Deion Sanders:


2. Rod Woodson

Rod Woodson
Full NameRoderick Kevin Woodson
Date of BirthMarch 10, 1965
Place of BirthFort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.
Height6 ft 0 in
Weight205 lb
NFL Draft1987 ( Pittsburgh Steelers, Pick: 10)
TeamsPittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl champion: 1 time (XXXV)

First-team All-Pro: 6 times (1989, 1990, 1992–1994, 2002)

Pro Bowl: 11 times (1989–1994, 96, 1999–2002)

Defensive Player of the Year: 1 time (1993)

NFL interception Leader: 2 times (1999, 2002)

Woodson was a vital member of the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl championship-winning team in 2000. He holds the record for career most fumble recoveries with 32 recoveries. Besides, he has 71 interceptions by his name and 12 defensive touchdowns from 238 games.

Woodson was the number 10 pick in the first round of the 1987 drafts. Woodson played for four different teams in his seventeen-year-long career. By the time he retired, he had become more than a great cornerback. Woodson is widely counted among the best defensive backs of all time in the NFL.

Career stats of Rod Woodson:


3. Darrelle Revis

Darrelle Revis
Full NameDarrelle Shavar Revis
Date of BirthJuly 14, 1985
Place of BirthAliquippa, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Height5 ft 11 in
Weight198 lb
NFL Draft2007 (New York Jets, Round: 1 / Pick: 14)
TeamsNew York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets,  New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl champion: 1 time (XLIX)

First-team All-Pro: 4 times  (2009–2011, 14)

Pro Bowl: 7 times (2008–2011, 2013–2015)

One thing you should remember while talking about defense in football is that statistics are not good enough to measure the talent and greatness of the defenders, especially if they are playing on the defensive backs. Darrelle Revis is one such example whose stats may not seem so much, but his impact on the field was huge.

Revis was born in 1985 in Pennsylvania, and after having a good run in the college team, he was drafted into the NFL in 2007. His college reputation helped him to be the pick no.14 in the first round of the draft.

Surely the New York Jets had high hopes for the 22-year-old cornerback, and he certainly lived up to that. In 2008, Revis became a pro bowler and achieved the feat a total of seven times in his career. By the time he retired in 2017, he was a one-time Super Bowl champion and a four times all-pro.

From his 145 game appearances, he recorded only two sacks, but as said earlier, his impact cannot be measured through the stats. Tony Boselli, former Jacksonville offensive tackle, said about Revis, “For an extended period of time, he was the best at his position.”

Revis has not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame, but that does not erase the fact that Revis is one of the best cornerbacks of all time.

Career stats of Darrelle Revis:


4. Darrell Green

Darrell Green
Full NameDarrell Ray Green
Date of BirthFebruary 15, 1960
Place of BirthHouston, Texas
Height5 ft 9 in
Weight184 lb
NFL Draft1983 (Washington Redskins, Round: 1 / Pick: 28)
TeamsWashington Redskins

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Championship: 2 times (XXII, XXVI)

Pro Bowl: 7 times (1984, 86, 87, 1990, 91, 96, 97)

First-team All-Pro: 4 times (1986, 87, 1990, 91)

NFL Man of the Year: 1 time (1996)

Darrell Green was one of the most versatile cornerbacks ever to play in the NFL. After getting drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1983, Green never changed his team. He remained a Redskin throughout his two-decade-long career.

During this time, Green helped the Redskins win two Super Bowl championships in 1987 and 1991. The seven times pro bowler and  4 times all pro became the NFL Man of the Year in 1996, which is considered the league’s most prestigious honor.

Green holds the record for most consecutive seasons (19) with at least one interception. He totals recorded 56 interceptions in 295 games. Green is one of the 80 all-time greatest legends for the Redskins.

After ruling the game for nearly two decades, Green retired in 2002. By this time, he made a permanent position in the queue of the best cornerbacks of all time.

Career stats of Darrell Green:


5. Dick “Night Train” Lane

Dick "Night Train" Lane
Full NameRichard Lane
Date of BirthApril 16, 1928
Place of BirthAustin, Texas
Height6 ft 1 in
Weight194 lb
NFL Draft1952, Undrafted
TeamsLos Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 4 times (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV)

First-team All-Pro: 7 times  (1956–1957, 1959–1963)

Pro Bowl: 7 times (1954–1956, 58, 1960–1962)

NFL interceptions leader: 2 times (1952, 1954)

Over the years, fans have witnessed many players who struggled at the beginning of their careers but later became greats. And there were some players who had a tremendous beginning but could not maintain high performance. And then there come legends like Richard Lane.

Lane was undrafted in the 1952 draft but eventually got signed by the Los Angeles Rams. Lane made a name for himself in the very first season by setting an all-time record of 14 interceptions in just 12 games. A record that many believe is impossible to break.

Lane was a cornerback and has been an idol for all the next-generation defensive backs. He is a seven-time first-team all-pro, seven-time pro bowler, and two-time NFL interceptions leader. He played six seasons for the Detroit Lions and became a Detroit Lions All-Time Team member.

Lane was born in 1928 in Texas. He had a very struggling and miserable childhood, being abandoned at three months old. He grew up in poverty, but that only made him stronger as a human being. He was determined to win in the field, and it was nearly impossible for offenses to pass through him.

From dumpster to the best defensive back of all time, he came a long way. Lane died at the age of 73 in 2002, leaving behind an inspiring legacy.

Career stats of Dick Lane:

GamesTacklesSacksForced FumblesInterceptionsDefensive TD

6. Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson
Full NameCharles Cameron Woodson
Date of BirthOctober 7, 1976
Place of BirthFremont, Ohio, U.S.
Height6 ft 1 in
Weight210 lb
NFL Draft1998 (Oakland Raiders, Round: 1 / Pick: 4)
TeamsOakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 1 time  (XLV)

First-team All-Pro: 4 times (1999, 2001, 09, 2011)

Pro Bowl: 9 times (1998–2001, 2008–2011, 15)

Defensive Player of the Year: 1 time  (2009)

NFL interception Leader: 2 times (2009, 2011)

Charles Woodson is one of the most decorated cornerbacks, who recorded one total of 13 defensive touchdowns in his career.

Oakland Raiders picked him at no.4 in the first round of 1998. Woodson proved his worth in his debut year by winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1998) in his debut season. He posted five interceptions in that season.

In 2006, Woodson joined the Packers, and there he finally won a Super Bowl ring in 2010 by winning the Super Bowl championship. In his 18-year-long career, Woodson became an NFL interception leader twice and also the defensive player of the year in 2009.

The nine-time pro bowler retired in 2015 and was soon inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.

Career stats of Charles Woodson:


7. Mel Blount

Mel Blount
Full NameMelvin Cornell Blount
Date of BirthApril 10, 1948
Place of BirthVidalia, Georgia, U.S.
Height6 ft 3 in
Weight205 lb
NFL Draft1970 ( Pittsburgh Steelers,  Pick: 53)
TeamsPittsburgh Steelers

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 4 times (IX, X, XIII, XIV)

First-team All-Pro: 2 times (1975, 1981)

NFL Defensive Player of the Year: 1 time (1975)

Pro Bowl: 5 times (1975, 76, 78, 71, 1981)

Interception Leader: 1 time (1975)

Despite being a cornerback, Blount has many individual achievements in his accolades. He is a five times pro bowler, two-time first-team all-pro, once a defensive player of the year, and an interception leader as well.

Blount was born in Georgia in 1948. He had his debut in the NFL in 1970. During the draft, he was the pick number 53, not something you may expect from a legend. Yes, hardly anyone could expect that a 53rd pick would one day become one of the best cornerbacks of all time in the NFL’s history, but Blount did it.

He was a cornerstone for the Steelers’ defense in his time. He played 200 games in 14 seasons and made 57 interceptions. He retired in 1983 and became a Hall of Famer in 1989. He was also a member of the NFL 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, as well as the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.

Career stats of Mel Blount:


8. Champ Bailey

Champ Bailey
Full NameRoland “Champ” Bailey Jr.
Date of BirthJune 22, 1978
Place of BirthFort Campbell, Kentucky, U.S.
Height6 ft 0 in
Weight192 lb
NFL Draft1999 (Washington Redskins, Round: 1 / Pick: 7)
TeamsWashington Redskins, and Denver Broncos

Career Highlights:

First-Team All-Pro: 3 times (2004–2006)

Pro Bowl: 12 times (2000–2007, 2009–2012)

NFL interception Leader: 1 time (2006)

After getting drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1999, Bailey remained one of the top cornerbacks in the league for fifteen years. In the meantime, he moved to the Denver Broncos in 2004 and continued his dominance.

The twelve-time pro bowler was always a big threat to the offense. However, as American Football is a team game, Bailey could not win any championship in his tenure.

Bailey was an elite-class player with so much dominance on the field. One good example of his dominance was his performance in 2009 when he did not allow any touchdowns pass in 80 targets. Even the best receivers in the NFL of his contemporary time could hardly have a chance against the 6 ft tall cornerback.

Bailey holds the record for most passes defended with 203. The legendary cornerback retired in 2014, and since the NFL has not seen anyone of his caliber

Career stats of Champ Bailey:


9. Mel Renfro

Mel Renfro
Full NameMelvin Lacy Renfro
Date of BirthDecember 30, 1941
Place of BirthHouston, Texas
Height6 ft 0 in
Weight190 lb
NFL Draft1964 (Dallas Cowboys, Round: 2 / Pick: 17)
TeamsDallas Cowboys

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 2 times  (VI, XII)

Pro Bowl: 10 times (1964–1973)

NFL interception Leader: 1 time (1969)

Being ten times pro-bowler for ten straight years is a challenge for any player at any position. Mel Reinfo achieved this feat from 1964-1973.

The Dallas Cowboys picked him in the 1964 draft and never let him go. After his first season as a rookie in 1964, he was named a pro bowler due to his exceptional performance. He carried his superb performance for the next nine seasons.

In his 14-year career, he played a key role in leading the Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins. Renfro was also an interception leader in 1969.

The interesting fact is that Renfro was not always a cornerback. Instead, he debuted as a safety and then played in the offense for some time. However, he was soon moved to the cornerback position, and he excelled in this position and wrote his name on the list of the best defensive backs of all time in the NFL.

Career stats of Mel Renfro:


10. Ty Law

Ty Law
Full NameTajuan Edward “Ty” Law 
Date of BirthFebruary 10, 1974
Place of BirthAliquippa, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Height5 ft 11 in
Weight200 lb
NFL Draft1995 (New England Patriots, Round: 1 / Pick: 23)
TeamsNew England Patriots 

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 3 times  (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX)

First-team All-Pro: 2 times (1998, 2003)

Pro Bowl: 5 times (1998, 2001–2003, 05)

NFL interception Leader: 2 times (1998, 2005)

Ty Law is a legend for the Patriots, who played a vital role in the Patriot’s three Super Bowl Championship wins.

Law was aggressive on the field and was determined to stop the offense by any means. Law engaged in an extremely physical contest with some of the receivers consistently, which led the NFL more strictly enforce the five-yard illegal contact rule.

Ty Law became two times all pro, five times pro bowler, and a two times interception leader. He deflected 169 passes in 203 games and recorded five sacks and seven touchdowns too.

Law is a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. He retired in 2009 after playing for the Patriots for fifteen years. Fans still remember the aggressive cornerback as one of the greatest to play in the position.

Career stats of Ty Law:



Defense is a difficult job in the NFL, especially when you are playing as a cornerback. Covering the receivers is a difficult job, but these players on the list did it for several years with such grace that many fans now believe that defense is much easier than offense. They are the idol of the defenders of the upcoming generation and will always be remembered as the best cornerbacks of all time.

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A.H. Mostofa Zaman is the chief editor of The News Titan. He is a professional journalist who focuses on reporting on the American Football news from the world of entertainment. He is determined in his quest to provide you with the most recent information and coverage available from all across the world.


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