The players/college careers: When you think of Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey you immediately think of two of the greatest NFL cover corners who are NFL Hall of Fame bound. Why not? These two players were dominant shut down corners during the prime of their careers. I am gonna be biased and admit I have a huge man crush on Woodson and was a fan of him during his glory days at Michigan when Michigan was on top of the Big Ten. It’s hard to overlook Woodson winning the Heisman as the only defensive player to ever win the award. Michigan’s 1997 season was one of the finest season’s ever in the school’s program. Woodson played a key role in each Michigan games that year in helping the Wolverines win the National Championship in 1997. Woodson was a beast as a receiver, returner and as a shutdown corner.
Bailey had a hell of a college career as well. He was regarded as one of college football's greatest multiple threats. But Bailey’s Georgia team wasn’t nearly as good as Michigan’s team was and nor did Georgia play in or win the national championship. But I would say Woodson had a bigger impact on the field when Michigan played in its biggest games. But we all know that isn’t Bailey’s fault. He did a great job as a shutdown cover corner at Georgia. Woodson just had a bigger impact on the bigger stage such as the Ohio State game and the national championship game against Washington State. Advantage Woodson!
The stats: Woodson was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the fourth pick in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He was selected the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the AP. Woodson was selected to the Pro Bowl 8 times and named NFL All-Pro 7 times. He is currently seventeenth on the all time interceptions list, with 56, and is tied with Rod Woodson for most career defensive touchdowns with 13. He also is second all time in interceptions returned for touchdowns, with 11 and has a good chance to break this record this upcoming season. Woodson did reach the Super Bowl once with the Raiders but the team was annihilated by the Bucs. He did win a Super Bowl with the Packers in 2011. Woodson was also named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the 2009 NFL season. Woodson was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Woodson has 19 career sacks which is 16 more than Bailey and also has 4 more interceptions than Bailey.
Bailey was drafted in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Redskins. Bailey has been selected to the Pro Bowl 12 times which is an NFL record for an cornerback and has been named NFL All-Pro 7 times. He also holds the record for the most interceptions in a Pro Bowl game. Bailey, like Woodson was also named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Bailey currently has 925 career tackles which is 109 more than Woodson. Bailey also has more passes defended than Woodson with 203 while Woodson has 122. Advantage even!
Tackling: When it comes to tackling Bailey is one the NFL’s best tackling corners and is a better tackler than Woodson. He knows how to wrap up. Bailey isn’t afraid to hit or stick his nose in the pile. Woodson is better at striping/punching the ball out. He excels in force fumbles. I’ll give the edge to Woodson for the force fumbles.
Coverage: This is a close call here on who is the better cover corner. I would say Woodson slightly has the better ball awareness skills. He does have more interceptions than Bailey but is older than Bailey by a couple years. But Woodson has missed more games than Bailey due to injury. So one could argue and say well if Woodson didn’t get hurt than he would surpass Bailey in this category or that category. One could also argue and say well if Bailey plays a couple more years then he could pass Woodson in this category or that category. It’s all speculation. In their 20’s both players shut opposing offense’s best weapon down. In 2009, Bailey did not allow a touchdown in 80 passes thrown his way that year. As a fan I rarely saw Woodson get beat on primetime stage. But I will never forget in 2005 when Terrell Owens destroyed Bailey on a 90 yard touchdown strike. The play was a simple curl route and Owens just outmuscled Bailey and out ran him for the big play. Advantage Woodson!
Bottom line: Woodson and Bailey both deserve to be in the Hall of Fame when their time comes. I know Woodson played the later of his career as a safety, but he was dominant. The question is can Bailey be just as good when it comes time for him to make that switch. Both players have great instincts. But I always f
elt Woodson played more physical then Bailey. I would agree and say Bailey made more plays when he was in his prime than Woodson, but when Woodson left Oakland and continued his career in Green Bay he made more plays as a corner first then as a safety. I would agree that Woodson is more versatile. Packer’s defensive coordinator Dom Capers utilized Woodson’s skills in numerous ways. He lined him up on the edge, in the box and etc.. To me I would say Woodson is the overall better player. But it’s a damn close race.