Best cornerback of all time? Easy, says Woodson; it’s Mel Blount


(Mel Blount photos courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)

Talk of Fame Network

When New York Jets’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall last year named the best cornerback in NFL history, he made two mistakes. First of all, he put Darrelle Revis at the head of the pack. OK, that’s his opinion, and it’s a free country … so we’ll give him a mulligan. But, second, he didn’t even bother to include Hall-of-Famer Mel Blount in the conversation.


So what? So we just asked Hall-of-Fame cornerback Rod Woodson on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast to name his top cornerback … ever … and, sorry, Brandon, but Darrelle Revis didn’t make the cut. Mel Blount, star cornerback on Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s, did.

“Mel Blount, to me, is the best corner to ever play in the National Football League,” said Woodson, now an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders. “If you ever met Mel, first of all, he’s a huge corner. He’s 6-4-ish. He wears these huge cowboy boots, this 10-gallon hat (and) this huge belt buckle. But he’s just so long and so fast and so fluid as an athlete.


                                     (Rod Woodson photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

“He was before his time. And when they make a rule up because you’re just destroying receivers down the field you’re doing something right. So putting that five-year chuck rule in there was really for Mel Blount because he was dismantling receivers down the field.”

A tall, fast and physical corner, Blount was so effective with his aggressive “bump-and-run” coverage that the NFL enacted a rule midway through his career to make physical play downfield illegal — a change that became known as “the Mel Blount Rule.”

But that didn’t deter Blount. He not only was an all-decade choice who played on four Super Bowl winners; he was a six-time All Pro named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team and chosen the NFL’s Most Valuable Defensive Player in 1975 when he led the league with 11 interceptions.

Like Woodson, who followed him to the Steelers in 1987, Blount was used as a kickoff returner early in his career. Unlike Woodson, he never was moved to safety and played with only one franchise, the Steelers, where his number 47 jersey is no longer issued.

“I just think he could’ve played in any era,” said Woodson. “And if you think now, everybody’s trying to find a Mel Blount in 2016. So what he had and what he was … way back then … was before his time.”

Previous Woodson has faith in Mel Blount; Shanahan has it in RG III...maybe
Next Mike Shanahan: Here's how RG3 can be a success in Cleveland


  1. bachslunch
    May 16, 2016

    Not so sure I’d pick either Mel Blount or Darrelle Revis as “best ever” CB, though they’re probably top-10 material. Dr. Z wrote that the two best cover corners he ever saw were Jim Johnson and Deion Sanders while the two best bump-and-run corners he ever saw were Dick Lane and Willie Brown. Chances are I’d pick one of these four. Woodson, Revis, and Blount would probably be in the top ten along with Mike Haynes, Roger Wehrli, and Herb Adderley. Not so sure I agree that Blount was an innovator, though — in fact, am thinking he’s more likely the last of the great bump-and-run type corners. Have seen the idea that guys like Blount, Lane, and Brown might not fare so well in today’s game where you can’t get as physical with WRs. Finally (and perhaps not surprisingly), Marshall and Woodson strike me as stumping for guys who played for their team rather than being objective.

  2. October 5, 2016

    If you look at the RECORD Mel Blount was STILL ALL PRO AFTER the 1978 rule change MULTIPLE times.THE guy DOMINATED before and after the rule change, to say he might not fare so well in todays game is not true in my opinion

    • Darrell
      November 26, 2017

      Rod Woodson knows cornerback play better than anyone. He is 100% correct

      Mel Blount destroyed players. Modern day fans don’t understand that the 5 yard rule is “the Mel Blount Rule”

  3. Dare
    January 1, 2018

    Yep. In my opinion , Woodson sort of tried to emulate Blount as much as possible except not being able to hit after 5 yards.

    1) Blount
    2) Woodson

    3) Sanders (Was only a cover-man. He was afraid of tackling). Best cover man if that is your specific need (such as his job on 49ers). But he was not a defensive leader.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.