In case you were unaware, Tharold Simon owns Eunice, Louisiana.
Or at least that’s what he told officers when he was arrested on April 27, the day before the Seattle Seahawks made him the latest addition to their ever-impressive defensive backfield.
While charges of public intimidation, resisting an officer and a noise violation didn’t sway the Seahawks from selecting Simon, they will have their hands full trying to mold this unruly cornerback into a contributor. If they succeed, though, the Seahawks might have yet another sleeper on their hands.
Following in the footsteps of Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne, Simon took over as LSU’s top cornerback in 2012. While soaking up the spotlight among the sea of talent that the Tigers defense fielded this past season, Simon tallied 45 tackles, four interceptions and nine defended passes. Despite his apparent success, questions remained regarding his technique in coverage.
A prototypical press cornerback, Simon lacks the technique and hip fluidity needed to run with wide receivers in off-man or zone coverage. Luckily for him, the Seahawks play a press defense that takes advantage of the strengths of their big, physical cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. And with two phenomenal safeties in Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor playing over the top, the cornerbacks can be as aggressive as needed.
In order for Simon to even get an opportunity to become a part of this defense, he’s going to have to overcome the immaturity that he displayed when he was arrested. In this day and age of the NFL, teams have put a real emphasis on players conducting themselves like professionals both on and off the field. If Simon can’t make his childish ways a thing of the past, he’ll be cast out of Seattle before he knows what hit him.
The x-factor in this whole equation is recently-acquired cornerback Antoine Winfield, a 14-year veteran and a pro’s pro. Winfield has always been a terrific leader and role model, especially for young, unproven cornerbacks. Especially since their games are so similar, Simon will benefit greatly from learning alongside a veteran like Winfield.
Considering their depth at the position, Simon won’t be much a factor this upcoming season unless injuries become an issue. The Seahawks drafted him for depth and as a project who can develop into a contributor once his technique, maturity and overall understanding of the game improve.
With an excellent supporting cast and a tremendous coaching staff, there’s hope for Simon that he can put his immaturity behind him and discover the true meaning of being a professional. If that’s the end result, the Seahawks got a steal.
Pete Carroll and Co. love to roll the dice. We’ll see if this gamble pays off.