Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina

Scouting reports of outside and inside linebackers in the 2010 draft.
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Mr. Offseason
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Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina

Postby Mr. Offseason » Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:33 pm

Pros: The emotional leader of the gamecocks defense and maybe the team, seems to make a big play when the team needs it, has good recognition skills and reads and reacts to plays well. Is very quick off the edge when lining up as a down lineman or when standing up, has demonstrated a lethal spin move, is overall an effective speed rusher. Is a good wrap up tackler, has some versatility as a linebacker and as a defensive end. Does a pretty good job of avoiding the trash to make a play on the ball-carrier. Really seems to be all hustle and gives his all on every play.

Cons: Does not change direction quickly and doesn’t look comfortable in coverage but his instincts make up for some of that. Doesn’t demonstrate good hand usage as a pass rusher or versus the run, and really has issues getting off of blocks once he is engaged. I even saw a play where he was blocked by A.J. Green and he didn’t shed it immediately. He doesn’t like to engage blockers versus the run, and prefers to avoid them. Doesn’t seem to have the hip flexibility to turn and run in coverage as well as dip under the offensive lineman’s block when trying to around him on the edge, which concerns me as far as his potential as a pass rusher in the NFL.

Overall: Norwood is all hustle and effort, and between that and his good/great instincts he makes up for some of his limitations athletically. I think he will be a stud special teamer in the NFL if he makes the most of that opportunity and he will work his way into playing time as a situational pass rusher in a 4-3 or maybe a 3-4 OLB. However he doesn’t have great size to ever become an every down DE in a 4-3, doesn’t support the run well enough as well as shed blocks to play every down in a 3-4, and is probably a 2-down linebacker in a 4-3 because of his issues in coverage. So as great a college player as he may have been, he really is a ‘tweener in every sense of the word and doesn’t project well to 4-3 DE, 4-3 OLB or 3-4 OLB. It really is too bad, but I think some team will draft him in the mid-rounds to solidify their depth at either DE or OLB, use him on special teams and use him situationally to get the most out of his ability. I don’t ever see him becoming a starting 4-3 DE, OLB or 3-4 OLB though. But his hustle, effort and leadership ability will prove valuable, especially early in his career as a special teamer and later on when he does whatever the coach asks him to.

Projection: 4th round: I think he shows some potential to be a situational pass rusher and situational pass rushers can come off the board starting in the 4th round. If teams aren’t sold on his ability to consistently rush the passer in the NFL he could go a bit later than this though.

1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

SPEED: 3.0
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Re: Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina

Postby Pudge » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:02 pm

Eric Norwood
South Carolina Senior

PROS: Shows a quick burst upfield and has the speed and ability to dip the shoulder and turn the corner. Has a nice counter move off the edge and shows a nice developmental spin move. Can play with his hand on or off the ground. Has a good motor and shows the killer instinct to go after the passer. Shows pop as a tackler, and does a nice job wrapping up. Can make the stop at the point of attack and shows potential to filter through traffic. Closes quickly on the ball. He can play in zone and has nice quickness to match up in man coverage.
CONS: Not great defending the run in space and gets caught out of position from time to time. Needs to do a better job with his recognition and play better contain on the edge. Needs to improve his ability to take on and shed blockers and occasionally will miss some stops in the open field.
OVERVIEW: He's a player that while he may not have improved his draft stock significantly, it was a good move to stay in school for his senior year. Because he simply is a better football player and more NFL ready than he was a year ago. A good pass rusher off the edge and fits very well as a linebacker at the next level. A three-year starter. Finished career with 29 sacks and 54.5 tackles for loss. Had 2 picks as a senior. Made move from end to linebacker as a junior, but still got reps at end on passing downs.
NFL FORECAST: Norwood has tremendous upside for the next level. He can play a similar role as Brian Orakpo this past year as a linebacker on running downs and end on passing downs. But he's further ahead in his development as a linebacker than Orakpo is because he's played two years there. He showed a lot of improvement in his linebacker skills from a junior to senior. He played closer to 260 as a junior, and looked heavy for a linebacker. Right now he's probably at or near his optimal weight to play in a 3-4 scheme. I think he can be a top pass rusher at the next level, able to consistently get 8-12 sacks per season. I think he'll also be a good run stopper. I think his pass rushing will be what he's known for but can be an impact defender in all aspects. I think the sky is the limit with his potential and it's up there with guys like Joey Porter and Shawne Merriman.
ATL FORECAST: Norwood can play in a 4-3 scheme like the Falcons and is an upgrade over Nicholas. He has great potential in coverage than Nicholas does, although it might take him a few years to be reliable there. But I think by his second or third year, he should be good enough to not get pulled in nickel situations in coverage. But even still, his ability to come off the edge on passing downs means he can impact there early as a young player. He is a better natural edge pass rusher than Nicholas that can play with his hand on the ground and give the Falcons more speed off the corner. He is one of the rare 3-4 outside linebackers that could also be a solid 4-3 SAM linebacker.
VALUE: Norwood is a Top 25 prospect that needs some work, but with his potential there isn't a reason why he shouldn't go in the first round.

1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

SPEED: 4.0
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