Before becoming the talk of the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was a lightly-regarded NFL Draft prospect.
Sherman's backpedal was choppy and he hadn't yet developed his physical style at the line of scrimmage. Still, the confidence was there.
"Doesn't matter where I play I just want to be a great player," Sherman told Mocking the Draft before the 2011 NFL Draft. "I don't want to be a guy that's in the league a few years, makes a ton of money and has nothing else. I want to go down as one of the best. I want to prove other NFL Draft websites wrong that say I am the 52nd-ranked cornerback prospect in their eyes."
In that interview, Sherman said he prided himself on his aggressiveness and physical playing style. He also admitted he was raw, something several draft pundits wrote in their analysis of Sherman.
No one had Sherman rated highly before the 2011 NFL Draft. Anyone who says otherwise now is lying. He wasn't in the final MtD top 200. USA Today didn't do a write-up on Sherman but rated rated him as the No. 22 cornerback. Pro Football Weekly considered him the 30th best cornerback in the draft that year.
"A very lean, leggy, converted recover with rare length at 6-foot-2, Sherman has good leaping ability, ball skills and hands and attacks the ball in the air. Is still very raw with a big ego that will require maintenance," the publication wrote.
ESPN's Scouts Inc. gave Sherman a 30 grade, the general grade given to any prospect. His coverage skills were rated at four, the second-lowest rating a player could receive. While much of the ESPN evaluation poked holes in Sherman's game, it did foretell what would become his best assets in the NFL.
"Best fit at the next level as a press corner where he can use his length and above-average balance to his advantage," the evaluation noted.
All along we should have known the Seahawks were after Sherman. General manager John Schneider practically came out and said it at the 2011 NFL Combine.
"I think it's a real good class," Schneider said of that's year's cornerback group. "I think it's one of the strengths of the draft, sure. I think all the way through. You get in the later rounds, you have some interesting guys that are size-speed guys, some conversion types."
The Seahawks took Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. He was the 154th player taken and the 22nd cornerback off the board. From there, the journey to the top for Sherman is a combination of confidence and reached potential. That's evidenced in Sherman's NFL-high 16 interceptions over the past two seasons where he's also been an All-Pro.
Now those same publications that ripped Sherman prior to the 2011 draft are quick to compare any cornerback over 6' to Sherman. Whether it's Lindenwood's Pierre Desir, Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste or Utah's Keith McGill, someone is comparing them to Sherman. NFL teams do it too.
With the 2014 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, the 31 teams that passed on him will be searching for the next Richard Sherman. He just may be one of a kind.
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