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
POINT OF ATTACK: 2.0
PASS RUSH: 3.0
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