By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – Tharold Simon’s second day at work ended with the opposing wide receiver face down out-of-bounds.
It was the final play of Saturday’s practice, evidence the 6-foot-2 Simon didn’t just look like someone who fit the Seahawks’ blueprint for an outside cornerback, but he played like one, too.
“He has real good size,” said Chris Harper, the wide receiver Seattle drafted out of Kansas State. “He’s a real physical player … He plays big.”
Now take a moment to consider where that’s coming from. Harper is a wide receiver who weighs 230 pounds. He was the player Seattle chose a round before picking Simon, and Harper isn’t anyone to be taken lightly.
And while Simon weighed in at 202 during this week’s rookie minicamp, his play proved the accuracy of the old adage about the size of the dog in the fight not being nearly so important as the size of the fight in the dog.
“He’s strong,” Harper said of Simon. “He got me one time today. He’s long. He’s real long. You usually don’t see corners that are 6-2.”
Not unless you’re in Seattle, that is, where the 6-3 Richard Sherman starts at left cornerback, and he’s bookended by the 6-4 Brandon Browner on the right.
And when Seattle drafted Simon last month, it was a license to dream that he would be a sequel to the Seahawks’ success when it came to finding lanky individuals capable of physically harassing opposing wide receivers right up to the brink of a criminal complaint.
The Tharold Simon file
|Height/Weight:||6-3, 202 lbs.|
|Drafted:||Round 5, 138 overall|
|College stats:||Made 15 starts and played in 34 games over three seasons, finishing career with 7 interceptions, 22 pass breakups, 99 tackles and 1 forced fumble.|
Not only was Simon tall, but he was drafted in the fifth round, which has been kind of a sweet spot for Seahawks general manager John Schneider. It’s where he found safety Kam Chancellor in 2010 and Sherman a year later, and after three years as Seattle’s GM, it’s safe to say Schneider has a pretty good track record when it comes to cornerbacks.
Exhibit A: Sherman.
Exhibit B: Browner.
Exhibit C: Seattle chose Jeremy Lane in the sixth round last year, and he appears to be a special-teams mainstay at the very least, while the worst thing you can say about Walter Thurmond (fourth-round pick, 2010) and Byron Maxwell (sixth-round pick, 2011) is that they just haven’t been able to stay healthy.
That’s the lineage that preceded Simon, who entered the draft after his junior season at LSU, and probably one of the reasons his selection in the fifth round was greeted with a sense of expectation.
This week’s rookie minicamp is no place to make any definitive judgments on his trajectory for this season or in the future. This is nothing more than three days of no-pad practices including only the team’s 11 draft picks, the 18 undrafted rookies who were signed as free agents and another 30-something players looking for a spot.
Of course, Simon has a history that must be mentioned at this point. He was arrested the day the draft began, an incident you’ve undoubtedly heard about. It was a dispute that started over where his car was parked outside his grandmother’s house and escalated to the point an off-duty officer arrested him.
But this was the weekend when Simon stopped being a punchline. While his foot appeared to be bothering him by the end of Friday’s practice, Saturday’s workout gave a glimpse of just how feisty this cornerback is in the very best way when it comes to a football field.
There was the moment Harper mentioned when Simon jammed a receiver that outweighed him by 30 pounds, and on the final play of Saturday’s workout, he knocked Gerald Kemp off his feet and onto his stomach at the edge of the playing field.
Kemp got back to his feet and jogged onto the field right as an air-horn sounded in three blasts, denoting the end of Saturday’s practice, but only the beginning of Simon’s tenure with the Seahawks.