Earlier this week the Seattle Seahawks waived fourth-year cornerback Tharold Simon. If that came as a surprise it may be because Richard Sherman had talked him up so much. #25 has stated on more than one occasion that Simon will be a better cornerback than himself some day. That day has not yet arrived, but the Arizona Cardinals are willing to give him a shot. Simon was claimed by Seattle’s NFC West rivals yesterday.
And so ends the grand Tharold Simon experiment. What a ride it was.
What’s next? A much more promising project at cornerback has lifted off the ground.
Week 1’s narrow win against the Miami Dolphins offered many surprises, not all of them pleasant. Earl Thomas may have had the worst game of his NFL career, but the rest of the Legion of Boom was fantastic. Kam Chancellor was in prime form and Sherman and Jeremy Lane played lock-down coverage against Miami’s athletic receivers as expected. The real star of the secondary though was DeShawn Shead.
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Shead was thrown at by Ryan Tannehill just three times on Sunday. Only one of them was caught and it did not result in any positive yardage. For his efforts, Pro Football Focus gave him the second-highest rating of any cornerback Week 1. That’s a welcome development, considering how PFF graded Shead last year.
This performance did not come out of nowhere, though. Shead has demonstrated massive potential on several occasions during his time with the Seahawks. Here’s a few examples that showcase his skillset:
There’s a lot to like there. Solid coverage, ball skills and excellent tackling angles. Shead has clearly evolved since the Seahawks brought him on in 2013.
It’s not just Shead’s work on defense that has garnered attention, either. Coming into this season Shead was named a special teams captain, which shows that Pete Carroll’s faith in Shead is strong. It makes perfect sense as Shead fits the prototype for a PC defensive back. At 6’2″ and 212 pounds he has the length and range to stick with elusive receivers and enough strength to bring down running backs in the open field. Finding corners who are adept at both is not as common as one might think. Finding ones who can also play both safety spots and nickelback is a rare thing indeed.
What makes Shead’s development unique is that he could be the first really good outside corner Seattle has been able to pair with Sherman. Byron Maxwell and Brandon Browner both had major flaws in their game that were covered up by Thomas and Chancellor. Shead does not appear to have any such weaknesses.
The truth is that this breakout Week 1 performance was a long-time in the making because Shead’s role has been steadily growing since the departure of Chris Maragos. Keep a close eye on Shead over the coming weeks. It’s possible that we’re witnessing the birth of the next great Seahawks DB.