Most people — aside from Seattle Seahawks fans — wouldn’t recognize the name Tharold Simon if they heard or saw it. That’s because the cornerback out of LSU hadn’t played one snap in an NFL game before this preseason due to an injury he suffered that kept him out all last year. Simon also wasn’t one of the heralded draft picks two years ago, partly because of a couple off-the-field incidents that happened in college. But those people who don’t know him better start paying attention to the second-year player, because the guy that he is most compared to is fellow Seahawk Richard Sherman.
First off, as ludicrous as it may sound, the comparison really is undeniable. Both are 6-foot-3. Both are about 200 pounds. Both are fifth-round draft picks. Both run a little over 4.5 in the 40-yard-dash. While the comparisons may stop there — as Sherman has become arguably the best cornerback in the league and Simon hasn’t even played a regular season game — the potential for Simon to become great is there. A big factor in that equation is the fact that Sherman is his mentor, constantly in his ear about how he can improve on each and every play. And Simon listens because he looks up to the All-Pro cornerback out of Stanford.
Simon has also been one of the most talked about and most improved players during Seattle’s offseason workouts and through training camp. All of the coaches and players have raved about how big it will be to have him healthy this season. Byron Maxwell is the unquestioned starter opposite of Sherman at this point, and rightly so. But you don’t see Sherman spending as much time with Maxwell as he does with Simon. That means that Sherman sees something special in Simon.
The young cornerback showed a little something special in Seattle’s second preseason game when he intercepted a pass in the end zone and took it all the way back for a touchdown. Although the play was nullified by an illegal contact penalty, Pete Carroll was notified by the NFL that it was a bad call. If that’s the case, it should count the next time Simon takes one all the way back on that kind of play.
Think of the possibilities. If Simon can put his character issues to rest — which haven’t been a problem since he entered the league — and reach his Pro Bowl potential, the Seahawks would, undoubtedly, have the best secondary in NFL history, something that is already debatable with their current secondary. The Seahawks’ press coverage technique fits perfectly with Simon’s strengths. Maxwell should be scared for his job, because it’s only a matter of time before Simon takes advantage of the snaps he plays and passes him on the depth chart. It could happen by the end of the season.
Two Richard Shermans in the same secondary? With Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor on the back end? That’s just not fair.