Richard Sherman has quickly become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL over the last three seasons, a distinction that’s even more impressive considering he’s only been playing the position for five seasons. But Sherman wasn’t always a standout in the defensive backfield.
Sherman was recruited to Stanford as a wide receiver and spent his first two seasons on the offensive side of the ball. Heading into the 2009 season, then-Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh decided that Sherman might be better suited as a defensive back — a change that didn’t come easily for the now two-time first-team All Pro.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin has been teammates with Sherman for seven seasons, including four at Stanford. He witnessed Sherman’s entire transition process, and he acknowledged Sunday that it wasn’t pretty.
“To be honest, when he first switched over, he was awful. He was terrible,” Baldwin said Sunday, per Pro Football Talk. “He couldn’t backpedal, he couldn’t track the ball, and he didn’t really try to quick jam, because he would get lost at the line of scrimmage.
“We had wonderful coaches at Stanford. They kind of honed in his skills, made him focus more on the details and then, when he got here, he kind of blossomed into [the] amazing defensive back that he is now.
“He never in his mind had doubt that he would be one of the greatest. He’s always said that he was going to be one of the greatest whether he was going to be a receiver or a defensive back. I had no doubt in him as well, because I know how hard he works.”
Sherman, 25, did enough to impress at Stanford to be selected in the fifth round by the Seahawks in the 2011 draft. Since then, the corner has amassed 168 tackles, 57 passes defended, 20 interceptions (an NFL high since 2011) and two defensive touchdowns over his first three NFL seasons. He’s also been selected to two straight Pro Bowls. So, while he might have gotten off to a slow start at corner, it seems the position transition worked out just fine for Sherman after all.