The 10 best cornerbacks in the history of the LA Chargers

NFL Divisional Playoffs - New York Jets v San Diego Chargers
NFL Divisional Playoffs - New York Jets v San Diego Chargers / Robert Laberge/GettyImages

The cornerback position is more important than ever in today's passing game. Winning at the highest level in the NFL is all about passing the football and being able to slow down an opposing quarterback is a trait every successful team must have.

The Chargers have figured out the quarterback position (for the most part) but have not had the same success on the other side. There have been a lot of bad defenses in Chargers history, so the list of the best cornerbacks may seem a bit disappointing.

Criteria for selection:

Cornerbacks are not as influential as their quarterback counterparts so they will not have al lof the same criteria as signal callers do. For instance, franchise impact outside the field and overall team success are two key factors for quarterbacks. That is not the case for corners.

Most of this ranking boils down to pure statistics. Interceptions, tackles, accolades, and duration with the team are all considered above all else. Some corners had elite primes but weren't on the team for very long. Some didn't have as high of a ceiling but spent so much more time with the team.

The list of all-time great Chargers cornerbacks may not be as impressive as some other teams in the league but there are still some prolific players who made the cut.

The top 10 cornerbacks in Chargers history:

10. Jason Verrett

No, you didn't misread. Jason Verrett ranks as the 10th-best cornerback in Chargers history even though his tenure with the team was riddled with injuries. Verrett only had one full season with the Chargers and that was enough to get him on this list.

The cornerback position really starts to taper off toward the end of this list and Verrett's Pro Bowl 2015 is enough to give him the nod. After all, there are only seven cornerbacks in franchise history who have made the Pro Bowl. Verrett is one of them.

Verrett's career will always be a sad story as his body got in the way of his indisputable talent. At the very least, he can hang his hat on being one of the 10-best cornerbacks in Chargers franchise history.

9. Bob Howard

Drafted in the second round of the 1967 NFL Draft, Bob Howard spent eight years with the Chargers and hauled in an impressive 21 interceptions. Howard would go on to play another five years in the league, finishing his career with 37 total picks.

Howard has an existing relationship with the best coach in franchise history, Don Coryell, even though the two never crossed paths with the Chargers. Howard played for Coryell at San Diego State before either of them made the jump to the league.

Coryell wouldn't coach the Chargers until 1978, which was four years after Howard left the team for the New England Patriots.

8. Joe Beauchamp

Joe Beauchamp slightly edges out Howard with 23 career interceptions but he also did so moving around the defense. Beauchamp played both safety and cornerback, giving the Chargers valuable versatility in a time where throwing the ball wasn't so popular.

Beauchamp has one of the most impressive games in franchise history as he intercepted three passes against the Denver Broncos in 1972. The decade-long Charger was the fifth of 11 players to finish a game with three interceptions on the Bolts. It has not been done since 2007.

7. Mike Williams

Before Mike Williams the wide receiver there was Mike Williams the cornerback. Like his 2017 counterpart, Williams was drafted in the first round of the 1975 NFL Draft and he put together a solid, lengthy career with the Bolts.

Williams would spend eight years with the Chargers from 1975 through 1982 and only played one more season in the league after leaving the Bolts before retiring.

Williams does not have any season accolades to his name but he did finish his Chargers career with 24 interceptions, which is among the most in franchise history. Much like the modern version of Mike Williams, injuries slowed down his career and perhaps ended it earlier than it would have.

6. Speedy Duncan

Speedy Duncan is unique from every other corner on this list as he was also an elite return man for the Bolts. Some of that is factored into his ranking on this list but it is important not to overvalue what he did on special teams when talking about the best cornerbacks.

Duncan was a four-time Pro Bowler in his career (three with the Chargers) all because of how good he was as a returner. He led the league in average punt-return yards twice with the Chargers and had four punt-return touchdowns across a four-year span in the 1960s.

That alone would have been enough for him to crack the list but his contributions at cornerback elevate him to No. 5. Duncan finished his Chargers career with 21 interceptions, two of which were pick-sixes. With one fumble return touchdown, Duncan scored seven total touchdowns on the Bolts... by far the most of anyone on this list.

5. Antonio Cromartie

Antonio Cromartie might have the best singular season of any cornerback on this list. Cromartie's 2007 season was truly special as the first-round pick led the league with 10 interceptions in just his second year in the league.

Cromartie was both a Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro in his 10-interception season. It was the first of four Pro Bowl seasons for Cromartie but was the only Pro Bowl nod he earned in San Diego. Cromartie continued being a great starting corner after 2007 but he never refound that form with the Bolts.

Some fans may move Cromartie up this list because of how dominant that 2007 season was and that is completely understandable. However, there are some cornerbacks who did more overall in their time with the team.

4. Casey Hayward

There is a very small margin between Cromartie and Casey Hayward. The two cornerbacks had similar tenures with the Chargers as they had peaks that put them among the best in the entire sport. Both peaks were short-lived, though, at least in an accolade sense.

Hayward did not have the first-team All-Pro season that Cromartie had. However, he had two second-team All-Pro seasons in which he earned two Pro Bowl nods. Hayward's 2016 and 2017 may not have been as good as Cromartie's 2007 but the two years combined trump what Cromartie did.

Plus, Hayward was a tad better in the seasons where he did not win an accolade. Add in the fact that he finished his Chargers tenure with more games played and more interceptions and Hayward narrowly edges out Cromartie.

3. Quentin Jammer

Quentin Jammer does not have the accolades that Hayward or Cromartie has as he never made an All-Pro Team or a Pro Bowl in his career. While Jammer's ceiling may not have been as high, he wins the longevity argument by a landslide over those two corners.

Jammer was selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He may not have lived up to his full potential as a fifth-round pick but what he did do was spend 11 seasons with the Chargers. For most of those seasons he is was an above-average CB1.

Jammer's best season with the Chargers might have even been his last. At the age of 33, Jammer finished with three interceptions (including a pick-six) and a fumble recovery touchdown. He would spend the last season of his career with the Denver Broncos before retiring.

2. Dick Harris

Dick Harris spent six seasons with the Chargers at the very beginning of the franchise's history. Harris' first season was the Chargers' first season in existence and he played through 1965. Harris was a key defensive piece in the franchise's lone championship season in 1963.

The game may have been way different when Harris played and pound-for-pound he is probably less talented than most on this list. However, compared to his peers at the time, Harris was one of the best corners in the AFL and that means something.

Harris finished with 29 interceptions in only 76 games played. In addition to that, he was named to the All-AFL first team twice and the All-AFL second team twice. He is the only cornerback on this list to be a two-time First-Team All-Pro.

1. Gill Byrd

Gill Byrd is the greatest cornerback in Chargers history and there really should not be much conversation around it. He may not be remembered as an all-time great in the grand scheme of the NFL but when it comes to Chargers franchise history, he has set the bar that someone may never surpass.

Byrd has the most interceptions in franchise history and it is not particularly close with 42. The difference between Byrd and No. 2 on the list is the same number of interceptions that the 10th-ranked player in franchise history has.

Byrd was a two-time Pro Bowler who was an All-Pro second-team member once. His versatility in the secondary was extremely important for the Chargers at that time and it earned him a spot in the Chargers Hall of Fame.

As good as Byrd was, the fact that he is the runaway best corner in franchise history shines a light on how thin the cornerback position is for the Chargers. With 42 interceptions, Byrd ranks 67th in NFL history.

The 10 best cornerbacks in Chargers history by interceptions:



Years with Chargers



Gill Byrd




Dick Harris




Mike Williams




Joe Beauchamp




Speedy Duncan




Quentin Jammer




Bob Howard




Antonio Cromartie




Casey Hayward




Claude Gibson