Seattle needed a cornerback. Everybody knew it. Draft experts had the Seahawks looking at Jimmy Smith at the #25 overall pick. John Clayton had corner as the #3 priority on the team’s free agent needs. People were talking about Tom Cable recruiting Nnamdi Asomugha, or going after a guy like Jonathan Joseph. All the while, the Seahawks front office was telling anyone that would listen that they were comfortable with their depth at cornerback after spending a fifth-round pick on Richard Sherman, a sixth-round pick on Byron Maxwell and signing little-known Brandon Browner from the CFL. Even the front office could not have predicted the impact Sherman has had on the pass defense since he took over for an injured Walter Thurmond in the second half of the Browns game.
In the five games before playing at Cleveland, the Seahawks pass defense was allowing opponents to complete 67% of their passes for an average of 8.1 yards per attempt, and a gaudy 91.4 passer rating. That would rank 26th in the NFL right now. Since pairing Sherman with Browner the past four games, the results are quite different.
Even with Tony Romo having a great game and finishing with a 112.2 passer rating, opposing quarterbacks have only completed 58.5% of their passes for an average of 6.0 yards per attempt and a 75.8 passer rating. That rating would rank 5th in the NFL among defenses.
Sherman has played a role in 3 of the team’s 4 interceptions the last four games. He grabbed one himself against Cincinnati, tipped one to Kam Chancellor in the same game, and forced a quick throw from Joe Flacco that was tipped by KJ Wright before David Hawthorne picked it off.
It takes a whole secondary to produce numbers like this, so it is clearly not all about Sherman. In fact, Walter Thurmond appeared on the cusp of having a very similar impact when he took over.
Ask yourself this, if you could trade Sherman for Asomugha straight-up right now, would you?