The 10 best cornerbacks in the history of the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Atlanta Falcons
Dallas Cowboys v Atlanta Falcons / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

Cornerback play arguably has never been more important than in today's NFL. With quarterbacks performing at a higher level than ever before and teams dropping back to pass at a historic rate, teams need to be able to at least slow down QBs to attain success.

The Dallas Cowboys know this all too well after they were carved open like a Thanksgiving turkey in last year's playoff loss. Fortunately, Trevon Diggs will be back from a torn ACL and DaRon Bland will look to build off a historic season in which he set the pick-six record.

Diggs and Bland will hope to some day crack the list of best Cowboys cornerbacks, but they have a ways to go to join the company of these players.

Criteria for selection:

Pro Football Focus is football purists' go-to source for evaluating cornerback play, but it only recently entered the picture. Being that most (all?) of the Cowboys' greatest-ever cornerbacks played long before PFF, most of this ranking is based on pure statistics and career resume.

Interceptions, team success, personal accolades and duration with the team were all considered for this ranking.

Some cornerbacks only had a cup of coffee with the Cowboys, but achieved notable personal and team success. Others had the benefit of spending most, if not all, of their career in Dallas, but didn't offer a high ceiling in terms of production.

The top 10 cornerbacks in Cowboys history:

10. Don Bishop

Bishop was a member of the Cowboys' inaugural season in 1960. The cornerback position was played a lot different back then (most DBs played corner and safety), but Bishop and Cornell Green quickly formed a formidable CB pairing.

The Cowboys didn't make the playoffs under Tom Landry until after Bishop retired, but Bishop helped lay a foundation for the team's future success. When accounting just for cornerbacks, Bishop's 22 interceptions are good for the sixth-most in Cowboys history.

9. Larry Brown

Brown started at cornerback alongside Kevin Smith in the early 1990s, but it was Deion Sanders' arrival in 1995 that set the stage for the defining season of Brown's career.

With Sanders locking down opposing receivers, Brown played the role of ball-hawk and tied for the team lead with six interceptions, including returning two for touchdowns. He added three more in the playoffs and later took home Super Bowl XXX MVP honors.

Brown never made a Pro Bowl with the Cowboys, but he was a three-time champion and the MVP of the team's latest Super Bowl win.

8. Herb Adderly

Adderly joined the Cowboys for his final three seasons after a legendary Packers tenure and helped guide Dallas to its first-ever Super Bowl win in 1971, his second season. While the Cowboys already had four great DBs in Mel Renfro, Charlie Waters, Cornell Green and Cliff Harris, it was the veteran Adderly who led the way with six interceptions in just 12 games. In the three years Adderly played, Dallas made its first two Super Bowl appearances.

7. Terence Newman

Newman holds a special place in the heart of Cowboys fans. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2003 draft, Newman finished runner-up in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting and later made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009. He never posted more than five interceptions in a season with Dallas, but he always ranked near the top of the league in passes defended.

Newman's 155 career passes defended are the most in team history. Passes defended didn't become a stat until 1999, but that takes nothing away from Newman, who averaged a whopping 15 deflections in his first seven seasons. He also ranks fifth in franchise history among cornerbacks with 34 INTs.

6. Dennis Thurman

Thurman and Everson Walls formed one of the best cornerback tandems in NFL history. The Cowboys lost the Super Bowl in Thurman's first season in 1978. They never made it back to the big game while Thurman played but they made the playoffs in seven of his eight seasons and he was a big reason why.

Thurman's playmaking ability was nothing short of elite. His five career defensive touchdowns (four via the pick-six) are tied with DaRon Bland for the most in Cowboys history. He's also fourth all-time with 36 interceptions (fourth among CBs) and racked up the third-most INT return yards in franchise history.

5. Kevin Smith

The No. 17 overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, Smith entered the league with monster expectations for a Cowboys team that had just won 11 games in Jimmy Johnson's third year at the helm. Impressively, Smith carved out a staring role as a rookie and Dallas won its first Super Bowl in 16 years in his first season.

The following season, Smith started 16 games and led the Cowboys with six interceptions and established himself as one of the league's best cover corners in the process. Injuries unfortunately cut his career short, but he remains to this day one of the most underrated players of the 1990s dynasty.

4. Cornell Green

Green was quietly one of the most dominant forces of the Tom Landry era. A cornerback who switched to safety eight years into his career, Green compiled five Pro Bowls and four All-Pros, including two First-Team nods, in his 13 years with the Cowboys. He was a key part of Dallas' first Super Bowl win in 1971 and he ranks sixth in team history with 34 career interceptions. A member of the Doomsday Defense and the Cowboys' Ring of Honor, Green's career is even more impressive based on the fact that he didn't play college football.

3. Everson Walls

Everson Walls is one of the best undrafted finds in Cowboys history. The Dallas native was dominant right out of college as he led the NFL with 11 interceptions as a rookie in 1981 and again as a sophomore in 1982. He finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting that season and he led the league in INTs again in 1985. His 44 interceptions with the Cowboys are second-most in team history.

Walls isn't the first player you think of as far as cornerback royalty, but he's undoubtedly one of the best ball-hawks in NFL history.

2. Deion Sanders

One of the most gifted athletes to ever play in the NFL, Sanders made a seismic impact in just five seasons with the Cowboys. In his prime, Sanders was the best cover corner in NFL history. It reached a point where opposing QBs wouldn't even look his way. Dallas was already a juggernaut prior to Deion's arrival, but it's no surprise they won a Super Bowl in his first season in 1995.

Sanders was a First-Team All-Pro three times with the Cowboys and he compiled 14 interceptions to go with three defensive touchdowns. "Prime Time" won Defensive Player of the Year and a Super Bowl with the 49ers in 1994, but joining the Cowboys propelled his career to legendary status.

1. Mel Renfro

Renfro is arguably a top 10 cornerback and safety in Cowboys history. He moved to cornerback ahead of his fifth season and it was a seamless transition to say the least. The former second-round pick made 10 straight Pro Bowls to start his career and he was an All-NFL member on five occasions. Renfro was imperative to Dallas' two Super Bowl wins in the 1970s. He has the most interceptions in team history with 52 and played in a total of four Super Bowls and eight conference title games.

The 10 best cornerbacks in Cowboys history by interceptions:



Years with Cowboys



Mel Renfro




Everson Walls




Dennis Thurman




Cornell Green




Terence Newman




Don Bishop




Kevin Smith




Trevon Diggs




Ron Fellows




Deion Sanders