Tharold Simon follows the recent string of LSU defensive backs to make their way into the NFL draft. It would be unfair to put him in the same echelon of guys like Patrick Peterson or Morris Claiborne, but this is still a talented defensive back with endless potential.
Simon is not the fastest cornerback out there, but he has good form and tremendous ball skills. He has not had tons of experience in a starting lineup, but he did lead LSU with four interceptions last season.
Simon is a player with upside and his highlights reflect the type of player he could develop into at the NFL level if he can bring consistency to his game.
Let's look at the best video highlights for the former LSU cornerback.
Simon simply does not let receivers get behind him. Here, he stays with the Georgia wideout for 40 yards before beating him out in a glorified jump-ball scenario.
Simon again gets his body in front of the WR and ensures he has no play on the ball. Simon uses good footwork and hand technique to keep the receiver as close to the sideline as possible, giving him no room to get inside of Simon or maneuver for better positioning.
Simon then caps the play off with a one-handed grab to add yet another aspect to the play and even hangs on as he hits the ground hard.
Here, Simon benefits slightly from an underthrown ball, but he does showcase his ability to recover and get in position to make a play.
Simon utilizes an impressive vertical leap to snag the ball and looks upfield in an attempt to gain yardage. This is a common theme to Simon's interceptions. He does not simply catch the ball and go to the ground, but instead finds open field and uses his teammates as blockers.
The athleticism he shows on this play is just a teaser of the plays he can make.
An interesting play here, as Texas A&M was simply trying as many laterals as possible in an attempt for a last-second touchdown. Simon managed to make his presence felt as he found Ryan Swope with the ball in the open field.
Simon has been noted for his coverage skills and ability to make tough interceptions, but this is one of few instances where he has showcased the power that he can generate when tackling.
Simon is not afraid to make hard-nosed plays, and this imposing hit showcases that ability.
This may be Simon's best highlight. He does not record an interception or pick up a fumble for a touchdown, but he showcases nearly everything that you could hope for out of a defensive back.
He stays with the Georgia receiver every step of the way and outplays him once the ball is in the air. Simon positions himself in front of the WR and ensures that the tipped ball will not end up in his lap.
As the slo-mo part of the replay is shown, look at how Simon follows through with his swat in a forward motion. This knocks the ball to the ground and away from the WR. These are the kind of ball skills that are needed to compete at the NFL level.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is an impressive athlete. He extends plays with his legs and can move the pocket laterally. On this play, Simon took advantage of that ability as he waited for Manziel to roll to his right.
Simon calmly sits by the sideline, making it appear as if he is too far away to make a play on the ball, but as Manziel releases the ball, he quickly plants his feet and changes direction. He has sure hands and immediately looks to gain yards once he gets the interception.
Simon shows an ability to read a quarterback's eyes and predict where he is going to go with the ball.
Simon has seen plenty of elite talent during his time in the SEC, but one of his most impressive plays actually came in a non-conference game.
Simon matched up with Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins and more than held his own. Hopkins is a potential first-round pick, but on this play Simon came out on top as he prevented a touchdown.
Simon gives Hopkins a fairly large cushion at the line of scrimmage, but runs stride for stride with him as the play develops. Once the ball is in the air, he gets great positioning on Hopkins and prevents him from using his body as leverage in an attempt to catch the ball.
Another game and another incredibly athletic play from Simon.
This time he turns his body almost completely around in an attempt to square up to the quarterback and make the best possible play on the ball once it nears him. Simon had his back turned as he attempted to track down the WR, but saw the receiver turn around and quickly did the same.
His instincts are on full display as he jerks his body around with proper timing and then has the ability to jump high enough to deflect the ball with an outstretched hand.
Simon could have been in better position at the start of the play, but his recovery skills are impressive, to say the least.