Stanford product Richard Sherman has the prototypical size and speed that Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll covets in a press corner.
At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, the 21-year-old played receiver his first three years at Stanford before moving over to the other side of the ball during spring drills heading into is senior year.
Sherman has the ball skills to be a solid cover corner, but he’s got some work to do better transitioning out of his back pedal, anticipating routes and breaking on the ball.
But Carroll, who recruited Sherman as a cornerback while at USC, likes his potential.
“We know he has great length, he has terrific ball skills, and the fact that he tackles so well,” Carroll said after the draft. “All that adds up, and he ran 4.4’s. We had no problem with any aspect of his build up.
“Not everyone appreciates press corners like we do, and the length that he has to help him with the jam stuff. It’s a big deal in our style of play, if we can suit our players to it, and Richard is really one of those guys that we’re going to go right at it with him. He’s a big kid; there are very few kids who play corner like that.”
A true press corner: Sherman’s combine numbers back-up Carroll’s claim. He ran a 4.54 40-yard dash, posted a vertical leap of 38 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 5 inches at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, so the athleticism is there.
But I think there are legitimate concerns about Sherman’s ability to play physical, along with his overall defensive anticipation after having played only one year at cornerback in college.
“Playing press-man is basically what Coach Carroll and his staff I believe brought me in for, and that’s what he preached to me on the phone,” Sherman said after Seattle drafted him. “That is one of my biggest strengths. I can press and play man. I’m good in the red zone against bigger receivers, smaller receivers. I think those are the strengths that I try to bring.”
Did you know? Sherman graduated from Stanford with a degree in communications and was highly recruited out of Dominguez High in Compton, Calif, but chose Stanford over nearby USC because he wanted to make a statement about the importance of education, becoming the first athlete from Compton to attend Stanford.
“I’m from Compton, and it’s hard for people to understand that you can be an athlete and have high academic standards and achieve high academic things,” Sherman said. “And so I really wanted to make that know to people that you can go to Stanford from Compton.”
Sherman also was roommates at Stanford with former Washington All-State quarterback and defensive back Kellen Kiilsgaard, a standout quarterback at Auburn High who played both football and baseball at Stanford, and is now trying to make his way through the minor leagues in the Houston Astros organization for the Tri-City Valley Cats in Troy, N.Y.
2011 expectations: Sherman fits that mold of a late-round prospect with a big, athletic frame that appears to be a good fit in Seattle’s press corner scheme. However, I think he’s still a work in progress and will be in a dog fight for a spot on the final, 53-man roster, particularly without the benefit of an offseason program learning the tricks of the trade from veterans like Marcus Trufant. But he could be a solid contributor on special teams for Seattle as a gunner on punt and punt returns.
Check out video highlights of Sherman below.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider discusses Sherman in this video link.