Sunday, July 19, 2020

Dynamic Duos: Cornerbacks (1960-present)

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.


Atlanta Falcons
Ken Reeves and Tom Hayes

Multiple seasons
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
2002—Ashley Ambrose & Ray Buchanan
2012—Dunta Robinson & Asante Samuel

Baltimore Ravens
Multiple seasons
2000-01—Chris McAlister & Duane Starks
2004—Chris McAlister & Samari Rolle (also 2006)
2017—Brandon Carr & Jimmy Smith

Buffalo Bills

Multiple seasons
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

Carolina Panthers
1995—Tim McKyer & Tyrone Poole
1996—Eric Davis & Tyrone Poole
2005—Chris Gamble & Ken Lucas: Combined for 13 picks
2015—Josh Norman & Charles Tillman

Chicago Bears
Whitsell and McCrae. Credit: Spokeo

Multiple seasons
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 &  Allan Ellis
2005-06—Charles Tillman &  Nathan Vasher
1967—Curt Gentry &  Bennie McRae
1985—Leslie Frazier &  Mike Richardson
2001—Walt Harris &  R.W. McQuarters
2018—Prince Amukamara & Kyle Fuller

Cincinnati Bengals
Ken Riley and Lemar Parrish

Multiple seasons
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

Cleveland Browns
Dixon and Minniifled
Multiple seasons
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. 
1960—Bernie Parrish & Jim Shofner
1968—Erich Barnes & Ben Davis
1971—Ben Davis  & Clarence Scott
1994—Don Griffin & Antonio Langham
2008—Brandon McDonald & Eric Wright

Dallas Cowboys
Multiple seasons
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 &  Aaron Kyle
1994—Larry Brown  & Kevin Smith
1996—Deion Sanders  &  Kevin Smith

Denver Broncos 
Harris and Talib/ Credit: Zimbio

Multiple seasons
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
1989-91—Tyrone Braxton & Wymon Henderson
1996-97—Ray Crockett  & Lionel Washington
1981—Aaron Kyle &  Louis Wright
1984—Mike Harden & Louis Wright
1987 Mike Harden &  Mark Haynes
2006—Champ Bailey & Darrent Williams
2012—Champ Bailey & Chris Harris Jr.

Detroit Lions
LeBeau and Lane

Multiple seasons
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. 
1983-85—Bruce McNorton  & Bobby Watkins: An underrated pair. 
1976—Lem Barney & Levi Johnson
2000—Terry Fair & Bryant Westbrook
2011—Chris Houston & Eric Wright
2017—Nevin Lawson & Darius Slay

Green Bay Packers
Herb Adderley and Jesse Whittenton

Multiple seasons
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
1972-74—Willie Buchanon & 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
1978—Willie Buchanon & Mike McCoy
1997—Doug Evans &  Tyrone Williams
2001—Mike McKenzie &  Tyrone Williams
2003—Al Harris  & Mike McKenzie
2010—Tramon Williams  & Charles Woodson

Houston Texans
Multiple seasons
2011-13 Kareem Jackson  & Johnathan Joseph

Indianapolis Colts
Bob Boyd and Lenny Lyles

Multiple seasons
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 &  Marlin Jackson

Jacksonville Jaguars
Multiple seasons
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
2006— Rashean Mathis &  Brian Williams

Kansas City Chiefs
Multiple seasons
1984-90—Albert Lewis &  Kevin Ross: One of the best tandems ever combining for 50 interceptions and six Pro Bowls. 
1969-72—Jim Marsalis & Emmitt Thomas: Thomas carried the load, but Marsalis could old his own.
1980-82—Gary Green  &  Eric Harris: Green was special and Harris, tall and smart. 
1995-97—Dale Carter & James Hasty
2006-07—Ty Law & Patrick Surtain
2016-17—Steven Nelson & Marcus Peters
1962—Dave Grayson & Duane Wood
2003—Dexter McCleon & Eric Warfield
2019—Bashaud Breeland & Charvarius Ward

Las Vegas Raiders
Haynes and Hayes

Multiple seasons
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
2006—Nnamdi Asomugha  & Fabian Washington

Los Angeles Chargers
Multiple seasons
1988-91—Gill Byrd & Sam Seale
1961-62—Claude Gibson & Dick Harris: 25 picks in two seasons together
1966—Speedy Duncan & Jimmy Warren
1966—Speedy Duncan & Miller Farr
1979—Willie Buchanon & Mike Williams
1998— Charles Dimry & Terrance Shaw
2010—Antoine Cason  & Quentin Jammer
2017—Casey Hayward  & Tyrell Williams

Los Angeles Rams

Multiple seasons
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

1976Monte Jackson & Rod Perry: Combined for 16 picks and Jackson was All-Pro
1999—Todd Lyght & Dexter McCleon
2003—Jerametrius Butler & Travis Fisher
2012—Cortland Finnegan & Janoris Jenkins

Miami Dolphins
Multiple seasons
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 & Sam Madison

Minnesota Vikings
Multiple seasons
1988-90—Carl Lee & Najee Mustafaa
2006— Fred Smoot  &  Antoine Winfield
2017—Xavier Rhodes &  Trae Waynes

New England Patriots

Multiple seasons
1978-82—Raymond Clayborn & Mike Haynes: Money issues broked this duo apart in 1983.
1983-89— Raymond Clayborn & 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
2019—Stephon Gilmore & Jason McCourty: In this era, have to mention JC Jackson as well. 

New Orleans Saints
Multiple seasons
1981-86—Dave Waymer & Johnnie Poe:
1991-92—Vince Buck & Toi Cook
2017—Ken Crawley &  Marshon Lattimore

New York Giants

Multiple seasons
1961-64—Erich Barnes & Dick Lynch: Among the best of their era, and ever.
1996-99—Jason Sehorn & Phillippi Sparks
1978— Terry Jackson & Ray Rhodes
2016— Eli Apple & Janoris Jenkins

New York Jets
Multiple seasons
1997-98—Aaron Glenn & Otis Smith
2010—Antonio Cromartie  & Darrelle Revis

Philadelphia Eagles

Multiple seasons
1996-02—Bobby Taylor & Troy Vincent
1980-85—Herm Edwards & Roynell Young
1960—Tom Brookshier  & Jimmy Carr
1974— Joe Lavender & John Outlaw
1988—Eric Allen & Roynell Young
2009— Sheldon Brown & Asante Samuel

Pittsburgh Steelers
JT Thomas and Mel Blount

Multiple seasons
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. 
1990-94—D.J. Johnson & Rod Woodson
2019—Joe Haden & Steven Nelson

San Francisco 49ers

Multiple seasons
1970-76—Bruce Taylor & Jimmy Johnson: Especially good from 1970-73
1981-83—Ronnie Lott & Eric Wright
1966-68—Jimmy Johnson & Kermit Alexander
1986-87—Tim McKyer & Don Griffin
1992-93—Don Griffin &  Eric Davis
1994—Eric Davis & Deion Sanders
2011—Tarell Brown & Carlos Rogers

Seattle Seahawks
Sherman and Browner. Credit: 97 Rock

Multiple seasons
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.
1982-85—Dave Brown & Keith Simpson
1989-93—Dwayne Harper & Patrick Hunter: Underrated.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Multiple seasons
2001-05—Brian Kelly & Ronde Barber: Cover two corners, good tackles, good run support.
1977-79—Mike Washington & Jeris White: Solid zone corners for the late-1970s Buccaneer defense, especially good in 1979. 
1998-00—Donnie Abraham & Ronde Barber

Tennesee Titans
Multiple seasons
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
1968—Miller Farr & W.K. Hicks
1977—Willie Alexander & Zeke Moore

Washington Redskins

Multiple seasons
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 & Joe Lavender
2001—Champ Bailey & Fred Smoot

1 comment:

  1. Great article guys ...

    Was there a reason why the combo of Jeter/Adderley for the Pack wasnt mentioned ?

    They seemed to shut down receivers on defence, especially during the Packs three consecutive championships. Though the Packers didnt make the postseason in 1968, I feel had they played SB III, these corners would have shut down Maynard and Sauer of the Jets but who knows ?

    Some of these great combos had an effect on some of these players not making the HOF or cancelling each other out, especially combos like Riley/Parrish, Ross/Lewis, Lyles/Boyd, Lynch/Barnes, Dixon/Minnifield, Taylor/Vincent even Thurman/Walls, who gave up plays but forced a lot of turnovers.

    A lot of underrated/forgotten players as well, who were solid pros.