Panthers' Josh Norman may have surpassed Richard Sherman, but don't tell him that

Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman already has an NFL-best four interceptions, two returned for touchdowns. AP Photo/Brian Blanco

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It has been suggested that Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman is on his way to becoming the next Richard Sherman.

He may already be there.

He may already have passed Seattle's two-time Pro Bowl corner, who will be on the opposite sideline when the Panthers (4-0) face the Seahawks (2-3) on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

Look at the numbers. Norman has an NFL-best four interceptions, two returned for touchdowns. He's the No. 1-rated cornerback by Pro Football Focus with an overall grade of 10.2. He's also first in coverage with a grade of 10.9.

Sherman is tied for 87th with an overall grade of -0.2.

This changing of the guard didn't begin this season. Since Week 5 last season, Norman has six interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, in 14 games. Sherman has four, none returned for touchdowns, in 18. Norman has 16 pass breakups. Sherman has five.

"In most seasons Sherman has been very good, but not great in YPA (yards per attempt)," ESPN analyst KC Joyner said. "His biggest asset, and why teams avoid him, is that he's a ball hawk.

"Norman has been a shutdown corner from a YPA perspective. So when that is added to his ball-hawk ability, which is now on-par with Sherman, it can be said that he has passed Sherman."

Norman has been targeted 35 times this season. He has given up only 15 catches (42.9 percent) for 129 yards.

Sherman has been targeted 17 times. He has given up 11 catches (64.7 percent) for 132 yards.

The biggest difference is that teams still are attacking Norman, although that might change if he continues to play like he has.

Norman is not concerned about comparisons.

"Because I'm not him," he said. "I'm Josh Norman, man. Ain't nobody else. I'm unique in every way. I'm sure he would say the same thing about himself."

What Norman and Sherman have in common is that they strive to be the best at their position.

"My numbers say that I am the best?" Norman asked. "If they do, then I'll take that. If it doesn't, I've got work to do. And I've still got work to do if I am the best."

But the similarities are there beyond what takes place on the field. Norman, 27, is 6 feet. Sherman, 27, is 6-foot-3. They both were fifth-round picks, Norman out of Coastal Carolina in 2012 and Sherman out of Stanford in 2011.

They both are athletic and aggressive.

"The corners that have the greatest impact on the game, they have great ball skills," Panthers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "Those are the guys that just attack the ball when it's in the air. They feel it's theirs.

"Against Sherman, you know you can't wait for the ball. When you're going against our guy, you better go get it."

Norman and Sherman have a mutual admiration for each other. They usually speak before and after games. Norman calls Sherman "cool."

He just doesn't want to be compared to him.

"Like I said, I'm not like any of them other guys," Norman said. "I do what I do. I'm making my own special, individual way, just like they are. They feel they are the best. Cool. It is what it is.

"I know what I can do and what I am. I just go out there and put it on tape and let whoever the decision-makers are in that atmosphere speak for [who's best]."