LSU Football: Tharold Simon Could Be a First-Round Pick

Colan LamontAnalyst IIAugust 14, 2012

Forget the loss of Tyrann Mathieu—a great playmaker but liability at cornerback—his immaturity will allow a stud athlete to garner the attention he deserves.

Tharold Simon will follow Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne in becoming the next shutdown cornerback in the SEC.

At 6'3", 200 pounds with 4.4 speed, Simon has elite size and speed which allow him to compete with the very best receivers.

Although Mathieu, Claiborne and Ron Brooks were all ahead of him in the depth chart, he still saw significant playing time and impressed when he was on the field.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Simon was a wide receiver when you first see his body type, so it is no surprise the cornerback is running routes to try and enhance his knowledge of his rivals on the field.

Rowan Kavner of reports that despite Simon leading the team in pass break-ups with 10, he is working like a wide receiver in order to improve his hands.

Simon said: “Last year, I could have been, like, second in the conference in interceptions,” he said. “But I dropped a lot. This year, I have to be more confident and go get those balls.”

He has also improved his speed and added weight; all positive signs that he will become the next great cornerback at LSU.

Simon learned from some very good corners and Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA,com reports that Peterson knew of Simon's talents two years ago:

"He's built like a fishing pole. But he's tough and fast, and he's a really good player."

Wide receiver Russell Shepard gave Simon the biggest compliments of all:

"He's one of the most underrated players in the SEC,"

"He would have started at 95 percent of the other schools. "He's not scared to mix it up. One of his biggest things is putting his hands on you and not letting you go. He's taller than all of us, and that gives him leverage. He has good feet and is an athlete as well."

Simon will see increased scrutiny now that he is a starter, but he seems to have all the physical skills needed to be a top cornerback.

The only blemish on his collegiate career thus far is a one-game suspension for smoking synthetic marijuana.

I really believe that Simon is every bit as good as the likes of Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick, who went in the first round of the NFL draft this year.

Obviously people are gutted to see Mathieu move on, but you can't ask for a better replacement than Simon.