The Top 15 Cornerbacks in the NFL, 2000-2009
Continuing my positional rankings for the decade that was, cornerbacks are now up.
Lots of very good candidates for this one.
There are a couple of different types of corners: great coverage guys who shut their guys down for most of the game, ball hawks who make up space while the ball is in the air and do a good job getting their hands on it and good tacklers who help in run support, occasionally blitz or pick up the No. 2 or 3 receiver.
We have all three varieties here and most of the best cover at least two of these areas.
The just misses for this category were Terrence Newman, Marcus Trufant, Lito Sheppard, Quentin Jammer, Samari Rolle and Al Harris.
Darrell Revis (pictured) just didn't have enough time in and Aneas Williams came close but didn't have enough healthy years in at the position this decade.
As always, all opinions are welcome, so without further ado here are my top 15 cornerbacks for the past decade.
* just for the record passes defensed did not start being officially counted until 2001.
15. Rashean Mathis
Mathis is a solid all-around corner, with a real nose for the ball. He was moving up the ladder as one of the best young corners in the game, but has unfortunately had some injury issues the past few seasons.
Mathis is young enough to get it back together though and we expect to see more of him in the future.
He has been a full time starter since the Jaguars selected him in the second round of the 2003 draft.
His stats for the decade include 28 interceptions, 89 passes defensed and 364 tackles. He was voted first team All-Pro and went to the Pro Bowl in 2006.
14. Nate Clements
Most people think of the huge contract Nate recieved in the 2007 off season when his name comes up. He was certainly a free agent in the right season and might have gotten overpayed , but he has been a solid corner for the entire decade and is one of the better hitters at the position.
His stats for the decade include 30 interceotions, 117 passes defensed, 516 tackles, 16 forced fumbles and five defensive touchdowns. Clements went to the Pro Bowl following the 2004 season.
13. Deltha O'neal
O'neal was a good player most of the decade, but it was two stand out seasons that get him added to this list.
2001 he had nine interceptions and 25 passes defensed for the Broncos and in 2005 he had 10 interceptions and 20 passes defensed for the Bengals, he went to pro Bowls following both seasons and was even a first team All-Pro in 2005.
His numbers for the decade include 34 interceptions, 98 passes defensed and 343 tackles.
12. Patrick Surtain
I'll be honest, when I started this list, Surtain was not one of the first 20 guys to pop into my head, but after further review there was little doubt he belonged.
He was an All-Pro with the Dolphins and brought respectability to the KC backfield for his last few seasons.
His numbers this decade include 33 interceptions, 79 passes defensed and 370 tackles.
Surtain went to three Pro Bowls during the decade.
11. Dre' Bly
In his prime Bly was one of the best in the league, he had the speed, ball skills and big hits you love to see out of your corners.
His numbers for the decade include 40 interceptions, 131 passes defensed, 421 tackles, 20 forced fumbles and 5 defensive touchdowns. Bly was selected to two Pro Bowls this decade and played for four different teams.
10. Sam Madison
Madison was a leader on the field with solid all around abilities for the position.
His greatest accomplishment came near the end, when he helped to the 2007 Giants upset the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
His numbers for the decade include 22 interceptions, 81 passes defensed, 293 tackles and eight forced fumbles. He went to three Pro Bowls and was a first team All-Pro once during the decade.
9. Antoine Winfield
Winfield is a solid all around corner. A very good tackler with decent ball skills and great leadership abilities.
For the decade he has amassed 882 tackles, 19 interceptions, 85 passes defensed, 12 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns.
For his efforts Winfield has been elected to two Pro Bowls.
8. Asante Samuel
Over the last five years Samuel has become one of the better ball hawking corners in the league. He was also a member of three Super Bowl teams (two winners) and started two of those games.
His career began in 2003 and his stats are 281 tackles, 35 interceptions, 118 passes defensed and four defensive touchdowns.
He has been to three Pro Bowls and was a first team All Pro in 2007.
7. Chris McAlister
This is another guy who was just solid all around. McAlister was a big part of one of the best defenses of the decade, going to three Pro Bowls, helping the Ravens to their first ever Championship and being named a first team All-Pro in 2003.
His stats for the decade were 341 tackles, 21 interceptions, 103 passes defensed and six defensive touchdowns.
6. Troy Vincent
Vincent started the decade right going to four consecutive Pro Bowls at corner back, before spending his last two seasons as a free safety in Buffalo.
His stats for the decade include 301 tackles, 18 interceptions, 47 passes defensed and seven fumble recoveries. Vincent has been active in the NFLPA since his playing days and was a candidate to take over after Gene Upshaw's passing.
5. Nnamdi Asomugha
Nnamdi has not only been a nightmare for journalists trying to pronounce his name he has been equally difficult for NFL quarterbacks to throw near.
As a matter of fact since his eight interception and 19 passes defensed in 2006 it seems they just stopped throwing near him.
His stats for the decade include 254 tackles, 11 interceptions and 56 passes defensed.
His stats are lower than most on this list because he is the youngest player on the list, the Raiders have faced less passes than almost any other team in his career and because quarterbacks literally quit throwing near him after that 2006 season.
He has been to two Pro Bowls and was a first team All-Pro in 2008.
4. Ty Law
In my opinion Ty Law is one of the top 15 cornerbacks to ever play the game and the only reason he isn't higher on this list is five years of his prime happened in the last decade.
I don't know that I have ever seen a more clutch defensive performer in the post season in my life.
That legacy includes a 47 yard interception return TD in Super Bowl 38, three interceptions of Peyton Manning in the 2003 AFCCG and two more picks of Manning in the 2006 wild card round while with the Chiefs.
His stats for the decade include 438 tackles, 33 interceptions, 88 passes defensed and four defensive touchdowns. During the decade Law played in four Pro Bowls, won three Super Bowls and was a first team All-Pro in 2003.
3. Ronde Barber
Barber was the ideal Cover-2 corner.
He had great tackling ability, good ball skills and was very dangerous once the ball was in his hands.
On top of that Barber has constantly been a positive leader in the locker room and on the field. Barber has been to five pro Bowls, is a three-time first team All-Pro and helped the Buccaneers to their first ever Championship.
His stats for the decade include 707 tackles, 21 QB sacks, 33 interceptions, 133 passes defensed, 11 fumble recoveries and an amazing 11 defensive touchdowns.
Barber is the rare club of players with 20 interceptions and 20 quarterback sacks, he is also one half of the best twin brother tandem in NFL history.
2. Charles Woodson
Woodson started the decade with two straight Pro Bowls and ended the decade with two straight Pro Bowls, he was also an All-Pro and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
Woodson early on relied on speed to make plays but over the years has become one of the games smartest and best all around corners.
His stats for the decade include 501 tackles, 39 interceptions, 100 passes defensed. eight defensive touchdowns and 20 forced fumbles.
1. Champ Bailey
Most of this past decade when asking who the best cornerback in the league was, the answer was almost unanimous; Champ Bailey.
He is one of the best pure cover corners to ever play the game and his nine Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections in the last ten years prove that.
His stats for the decade include 601 tackles, 41 interceptions, 139 passes defensed and three defensive touchdowns.