Cornerbacks are one of the most lethal and important positions when it comes to the NFL. Teams often rely on them most of the time, whether scoring points or defending. Moreover, in recent times, teams have always had players who play in the cornerback position. For many champion teams in the NFL, their cornerback has played an important role in their successful campaign. So let’s have a look at the 20 greatest cornerbacks in NFL history.
Greatest Cornerbacks in NFL History
- Jalen Ramsey
- Aeneas Williams
- Albert Lewis
- Lester Hayes
- Lem Barney
- Mel Renfro
- Ty Law
- Jimmy Johnson
- Richard Sherman
- Charles Woodson
- Patrick Peterson
- Ronde Barber
- Willie Brown
- Darrell Green
- Champ Bailey
- Ronnie Lott
- Richard Lane
- Mel Blount
- Deion Sanders
- Rod Woodson
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- Playing years: 2016–present
- Teams: Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, and Miami Dolphins
The 28-year-old cornerback is one of the youngest players to make this legendary list. He started his NFL career in 2016 with the Jaguars and had an impressive start to his career. He was a part of the PFWA All-Rookie team in 2016.
After three seasons, he signed a contract with the Rams, and he completed his dream of becoming an NFL champion. He was a part of the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI championship victory and, so far, has made it into three All-Pro first teams and six Pro Bowls.
- Playing years: 1991–2004
- Teams: Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams
The Cardinals legend is surely one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history. He was the best cornerback for two seasons and was also the NFL interceptions co-leader in 1994. Apart from that, he was a part of eight Pro Bowls, the NFL 1990s All-Decade team, and three All-Pro first teams.
- Playing years: 1983–98
- Teams: Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Raiders
The Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer is one of the best cornerbacks in Chiefs history. He wasn’t one of the best picks in the NFL draft, but after he played his debut season, he proved everybody wrong. He rarely missed a game for his team in his entire career and was a part of two All-Pro teams in the NFL.
- Playing years: 1977–1986
- Teams: Los Angeles Raiders
If you are a true NFL fan, you know who Lester Hayes is. He joined the Raiders in 1977 and spent his entire NFL career with them. Won two Super Bowl championships, the 1980 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the 1980 NFL Interceptions Leaders. Truly, without him, the list is incomplete.
- Playing years: 1967–1977
- Teams: Detroit Lions
The Pride of Detroit Lions, Lem Barney was one of the most destructive players in 1967. That was his first-ever season in the NFL, and he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year, NFL Interception Leader, and also holds the record for most interceptions in a season by a rookie. All of this happened in his very first season, and by the end of his career in the NFL, he had retired as a legend of the game.
- Playing years: 1964–1977
- Teams: Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys legend competed in the league for 15 years and was a part of the Cowboys throughout his entire NFL career. He played a total of 174 games in his career and won two Super Bowl championships. He also made it into 10 consecutive Pro Bowls and was the interceptions leader in 1969.
- Playing years: 1995–2009
- Teams: New England Patriots, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, and Denver Broncos
A cornerback who has made a total of 838 tackles in his NFL career and is not on the list is not an option. He started his NFL career with the New England Patriots, and when he left the team in 2004, he ended up being a legend for the team. He won three Super Bowl championships and was a part of the NFL 2000s All-Decade team.
A former NFL player and coach, Jimmy Johnson, takes his place on the list. He was one of the best cornerbacks during his playing career and won the 1964 National Championship and two SWC Championships. After his retirement, he became a coach and also won two Super Bowl championships as a coach.
- Playing years: 2011–2021.
- Teams: Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sherman is regarded as one of the greatest cornerbacks of all time. The reason is that he helped the Seahawks win the first Super Bowl championship and was also the interceptions leader in the same year.
- Playing years: 1998–2015
- Teams: Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers
If you are thinking of a cornerback, Charles Woodson is one of the legendary players who comes to mind. He won the Defensive Player of the Year two times and was also the NFL Interceptions Leader twice. Woodson won every possible award that an NFL player dreams of and had one of the best NFL careers.
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- Playing years: 2011–Present
- Teams: Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers
Another active player makes his place on the list. He started his NFL career with the Cardinals in 2011, and before making it into the NFL drafts, he won the Chuck Bednarik Award in 2010. Not only the Chuck Bednarik Award but all the possible awards given to the best defender of the year.
Since he joined the NFL in 2011, he has been a part of three First All-Pro teams, eight Pro Bowl teams, and various other teams, like the NFL’s All-Decade team in 2010.
- Playing years: 1997–2012
- Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ronde Barber is one of the Buccaneers legendary cornerbacks. Ring of Honor winner, Super Bowl Championship, 5 Pro Bowls, NFL Decade Team, Interception Co-leader, and many other achievements One of the most interesting facts about his career is that he never missed a game from 2000 to 2012. Including the playoffs, he played a total of 224 consecutive games and made a total of 1251 tackles.
- Playing years: 1963–1978
- Teams: Houston Oilers, Denver Broncos, and Oakland Raiders
The late William Ferdie Brown, famously called Willie Brown, is a former coach and NFL player. He was one of the players who could stop anyone from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. During his prime years, he won the AFL Championship and the Super Bowl Championship, and after his retirement, he was honored by being made a member of the AFL All-Time Team, the NFL 100th Anniversary Team, and the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.
- Playing years: 1983–2002
- Teams: Washington Redskins
With 1159 tackles and most consecutive seasons with an interception (19), he is sure one of the greatest cornerbacks. He started his career with the Redskins in 1983 and spent all 19 seasons with them. Won two Super Bowl championships, the NFL Man of the Year, the Bart Starr Award, and was part of many NFL teams.
- Playing years: 1999–2014
- Teams: Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, and New Orleans Saints
Champ Bailey is a former cornerback player and one of the best cornerbacks for the Broncos and the Redskins. He retired from the NFL in 2014, and to date, he holds many records in the league. Most Passes Defended (203), Most Pro Bowl Selections for Defensive Backs (12), the youngest player to intercept three passes in a game, and many more.
- Playing years: 1981–1995.
- Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Jets, and Kansas City Chiefs
Another legendary 49ers cornerback finds himself on the list. He started his career with the 49ers and ended with them. Won four Super Bowl championships and every possible championship every player dreams of. In his NFL career of 14 seasons, he made a total of 1146 tackles, 63 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 5 touchdowns, and many more. That itself clears your doubts about why the player is on the list.
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- Playing years: 1952–1965
- Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions
Night Train Lane is one of the best cornerbacks the game has ever witnessed. From defending to running, he was just unstoppable. This is the reason why he got the nickname Night Train Lane. He played in a total of 157 games, had 68 interceptions in his career, including 14 in one season, and had 1207 interception return yards.
- Playing years: 1970–1983.
- Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers
Mel Blount is one of the Stealers’ most legendary cornerbacks and players in their history. He spent his entire career of 13 seasons with them and won four Super Bowl championships. Not only that, he was also the 1975 Defensive Player of the Year and the Interceptions Leader of the Year.
- Playing years: 1989–2005
- Teams: Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens
The list is incomplete without the “Prime Time” player and coach of the NFL. Deion Sanders is one of the legendary cornerback players in the NFL who won two Super Bowl championships and was named Defensive Player of the Year in one season. Part of the 6 First All-Pro Team, 8 Pro Bowl, was the NFL kick-off return leader in 1992, and many other legendary stats
- Playing years: 1987-2003
- Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, and Oakland Raiders
Finally, we have one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history, Rod Woodson. A former NFL coach and player who broke any records of defense in NFL history. With a total of 1158 tackles, 71 interceptions, 17 touchdowns, and 20 forced fumbles, he is clearly the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history.