By John Turney
There are different ways to rank the top cornerback dues for each team in a given year but we wanted to pick the ones where both players were playing well enough to get some, perhaps, All-Pro recognition, good stats, perhaps good testimonials, and so on, not just one player who maybe had an ann-time great year and the other corner was good, but didn't really stand out.
Let's say player A was a "10" on a scale of 10 and the other was a "6", for example. The total would be a 16, right? But what if another tandem in team history was one player as an "8" and the other was a "7", the total is 15 but both players were good whereas the first example it might be a case of one player carrying the tandem.
Keep that in mind as you read. You may disagree with our ultimate picks, but at least you'll know we did our due diligence. Also, this post got a little unwieldy, so there may be comments for some tandems and not for others. And sometimes maybe a tandem could be in moth the "single season" category or the "multiple years" category but we just made a call.
Part of that due diligence is the post-season honors, et al, mentioned above but also some team and secondary unit success as well. So, we throw all that into the blender, mix it with conversations with people pro scouts we talk to, the literature of the day (Pro Preview
, Joel Buchbaum's writings, Dr. Z's writing, TJ Troup, Nick Webster, Chris Willis, and others, we just try to kick an answer out of the old grey matter.
In the end, we are not rating these as much as listing and recognizing them, though in general, we tried to list those in the chart from the top-down, meaning we think Lewis and Ross are the best of the seven-year duos.
Also, injuries factor in so some may have played for six years, but one missed time because of an injury, in that case, we still considered them a 'team' if they came back together after the injury.
Also, this is for fun and discussion, not an end-all, be-all list.
|Ken Reeves and Tom Hayes|
1971-73—Ken Reaves & Tom Hayes: 32 takeaways and 3 defensive scores from 71-73
1997-99—Ronnie Bradford & Ray Buchanan
1991-92—Tim McKyer & Deion Sanders: Most talented duo, 1991 especially effective
1975—Rolland Lawrence & Tom Hayes
1977—Rick Byas & Rolland Lawrence: Gritz Blitz year
& Ray Buchanan
& Asante Samuel
2004—Chris McAlister &
Samari Rolle (also 2006)
2017—Brandon Carr & Jimmy Smith
1978-83—Charles Romes & Mario Clark: Solid pair on team with a low defensive passer raring for most of their time together
1964-69—Booker Edgerson & Butch Byrd: A good AFL's CB duo
2001-03—Antoine Winfield & Nate Clements
|Robert James and Dwight Harrison|
1974—Dwight Harrison & Robert James: Were fabulous in 1974
1993—James Williams & Nate Odoms: The best of the Bills AFC championship CB dues of early 90s
2009—Terrence McGee & Drayton Florence
2015—Ronald Darby & Stephon Gilmore
2019—Tre'Davious White & Levi Wallace
1996—Eric Davis & Tyrone Poole
2005—Chris Gamble &
Ken Lucas: Combined for 13 picks
2015—Josh Norman &
|Whitsell and McCrae. Credit: Spokeo|
1963-66—Bennie McRae & Dave Whitsell: Won a title together and solid in other years
2010-13—Tim Jennings & Charles Tillman
1976-77—Virgil Livers &
2005-06—Charles Tillman &
1967—Curt Gentry &
1985—Leslie Frazier &
2001—Walt Harris &
|Ken Riley and Lemar Parrish|
1970-77— Ken Riley &
Lemar Parrish. Parrish had six seasons with post-season honors (seven if you count 1970 when he went to Pro Bowl as a returner and Riley had "honors" in 1975-76. Parrish and Riley combined for 61 interceptions and six pick-sixes in their eight seasons together.
1983—Ken Riley & Louis Breeden
2005—Tory James & Deltha O'Neal
2009—Leon Hall & Johnathan Joseph
2012, 2014—Leon Hall & Terence Newman
|Dixon and Minniifled|
1984-89—Hanford Dixon & Frank Minnifield: One of the top pairs in NFL history. They combined for four First-team All-Pro seasons, two Second-team picks, and seven Pro Bowls.
& Jim Shofner
1968—Erich Barnes & Ben Davis
& Clarence Scott
1994—Don Griffin &
2008—Brandon McDonald &
|Mel Renfro and Herb Adderly|
1970-71—Herb Adderley & Mel Renfro: Only two seasons together, but as good a duo as ever stepped on the field together. Adderley recharged in '70-71.
1981-83—Dennis Thurman & Everson Walls
1977—Benny Barnes &
1994—Larry Brown & Kevin Smith
1996—Deion Sanders &
|Harris and Talib/ Credit: Zimbio|
2014-17—Chris Harris Jr.
& Aqib Talib: With Harris in slot a lot this was one of the top two duos in the present era, when really, we should include the third corner.
|Louis Wright and Steve Foley|
1976-77—Louis Wright & Steve Foley
& Wymon Henderson
& Lionel Washington
1981—Aaron Kyle &
1984—Mike Harden & Louis Wright
Mike Harden &
2006—Champ Bailey & Darrent Williams
& Chris Harris Jr.
|LeBeau and Lane|
1960-63—Night Train Lane & Dick LeBeau: A couple of the Night Train's best seasons were in the early 1960s.
1967-71—Lem Barney & Dick LeBeau: Barney came out like a house on fire.
& Bobby Watkins: An underrated pair.
1976—Lem Barney & Levi Johnson
2000—Terry Fair & Bryant Westbrook
2011—Chris Houston & Eric Wright
& Darius Slay
Green Bay Packers
|Herb Adderley and Jesse Whittenton|
1962-64—Jesse Whittenton & Herb Adderley: Duo was broken apart, but in their era, one of, if not the best pair.
1966-69—Bob Jeter & Herb Adderley
& Ken Ellis
1981-83—Mark Lee & Mike McCoy
1984-85—Mark Lee & Tim Lewis
1987-89—Dave Brown & Mark Lee
1995-96— Doug Evans
& Craig Newsome
& Mike McCoy
1997—Doug Evans &
2001—Mike McKenzie &
& Mike McKenzie
& Charles Woodson
2011-13 Kareem Jackson
& Johnathan Joseph
|Bob Boyd and Lenny Lyles|
1963-68—Bobby Boyd & Lenny Lyles: A couple of zone corners who were disciplined and could tackle and pick off balls.
1970-71—Jim Duncan & Charlie Stukes: Colts had tough, tough zone defenses in 1970-71.
1996-96—Ray Buchanan & Eugene Daniel
2005-06—Jason David & Nick Harper
1960—Bobby Boyd & Milt Davis
1977—Nelson Munsey & Norm Thompson
2007—Kelvin Hayden &
2017-18—A.J. Bouye & Jalen Ramsey: Broken up too soon, but as fine a pair of corners ad one could in the recent NFL
1999—Aaron Beasley & Fernando Bryant
Rashean Mathis &
Kansas City Chiefs
1984-90—Albert Lewis & Kevin Ross: One of the best tandems ever combining for 50 interceptions and six Pro Bowls.
& Emmitt Thomas: Thomas carried the load, but Marsalis could old his own.
Eric Harris: Green was special and Harris, tall and smart.
Dale Carter & James Hasty
2006-07—Ty Law & Patrick Surtain
2016-17—Steven Nelson & Marcus Peters
1962—Dave Grayson & Duane Wood
& Charvarius Ward
Las Vegas Raiders
|Haynes and Hayes|
1984-87—Lester Hayes & Mike Haynes: Actually partnered up late in 1983, one of best ever, if not the best.
1967-69—Willie Brown & Kent McCloughan: As good a duo as ever played in AFL
1971-74—Willie Brown & Nemiah Wilson
1988-93—Terry McDaniel & Lionel Washington
1999-02—Eric Allen & Charles Woodson
1975—Willie Brown & Skip Thomas
& Fabian Washington
Los Angeles Chargers
1988-91—Gill Byrd & Sam Seale
1961-62—Claude Gibson & Dick Harris: 25 picks in two seasons together
Speedy Duncan & Jimmy Warren
& Miller Farr
& Mike Williams
& Terrance Shaw
& Quentin Jammer
& Tyrell Williams
Los Angeles Rams
1978-82— Pat Thomas & Rod Perry: Both had injury issues in 1979, but when healthy this pair of 5'9" leapers were as good as any in NFL. Per16 games the duo averaged 11 picks per season and combined they took five picks back for scores from '78-82.
1966-68—Irv Cross & Clancy Williams
1984-85— Gary Green & Leroy Irvin
1986-88— Leroy Irvin & Jerry Gray
|Rod Perry and Monte Jackson. Credit: Sandy Huffaker|
Monte Jackson & Rod Perry: Combined for 16 picks and Jackson was All-Pro
& Dexter McCleon
2003—Jerametrius Butler & Travis Fisher
& Janoris Jenkins
1972-75—Tim Foley & Curtis Johnson: Paired for four years, winning two titles.
2000-03—Sam Madison & Patrick Surtain: Superior duo, excelled at man coverage
1982—Don McNeal & Gerald Small
1998—Terrell Buckley &
1988-90—Carl Lee & Najee Mustafaa
2017—Xavier Rhodes &
New England Patriots
1978-82—Raymond Clayborn & Mike Haynes: Money issues broked this duo apart in 1983.
& Ronnie Lippett: Haynes' money issues caused him to be traded to the Raiders and a new combo was born.
2000-02—Ty Law & Otis Smith
2003—Ty Law & Tyrone Poole
& Jason McCourty: In this era, have to mention JC Jackson as well.
New Orleans Saints
1981-86—Dave Waymer & Johnnie Poe:
1991-92—Vince Buck & Toi Cook
2017—Ken Crawley &
New York Giants
1961-64—Erich Barnes & Dick Lynch: Among the best of their era, and ever.
1996-99—Jason Sehorn & Phillippi Sparks
Terry Jackson &
Eli Apple & Janoris Jenkins
New York Jets
& Otis Smith
& Darrelle Revis
1996-02—Bobby Taylor & Troy Vincent
1980-85—Herm Edwards & Roynell Young
& Jimmy Carr
& John Outlaw
1988—Eric Allen & Roynell Young
& Asante Samuel
|JT Thomas and Mel Blount|
1974-77—Mel Blount & J.T. Thomas: Solid Cover-2 corners and could play man as well, part of some of the best pass defenses ever.
& Steven Nelson
San Francisco 49ers
& Jimmy Johnson: Especially good from 1970-73
& Eric Wright
1966-68—Jimmy Johnson & Kermit Alexander
& Don Griffin
1992-93—Don Griffin & Eric Davis
& Deion Sanders
2011—Tarell Brown & Carlos Rogers
|Sherman and Browner. Credit: 97 Rock|
2011-13—Brandon Browner & Richard Sherman: Only three years together for this corner duo that were the outside defenders in the "Legion of Boom" secondary. Both exceptionally tall, but Sherman the far, far superior player.
& Patrick Hunter: Underrated.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2001-05—Brian Kelly & Ronde Barber: Cover two corners, good tackles, good run support.
& Jeris White: Solid zone corners for the late-1970s Buccaneer defense, especially good in 1979.
& Ronde Barber
1994-97 Cris Dishman & Darryll Lewis
1960-62—Tony Banfield & Mark Johnston: Banfield was the AFL's first great corner but injuries broke this tandem apart
2007-08—Cortland Finnegan & Nick Harper
& W.K. Hicks
& Zeke Moore
1983-86—Vernon Dean & Darrell Green
1978-81—Joe Lavender & Lemar Parrish
1971-75—Pat Fischer & Mike Bass
1964-65—Johnny Sample & Lonnie Sanders
1976-77—Pat Fischer &
2001—Champ Bailey & Fred Smoot