6-2/232 Oregon State
Pros: Is comfortable working in space and shows good ability in pursuit. Has a good motor. Has a quick first step off the snap and is a capable bull rusher. Has some burst to turn the corner against slower tackles.
Cons: Not that explosive and lacks ideal long speed. Inexperienced in coverage. Is undersized for an end and gets engulfed at the point of attack at times. Overly relies on edge speed and lacks many pass rush moves to beat blocker.
Overview: He was the counterpart to Victor Butler this past year at the other end spot, and likely will move to linebacker at the next level. He began his OSU career at linebacker before moving to end as a junior, so transition shouldn't be too hard. Had 9 sacks as a backup his junior year and 10 sacks this past year, his lone as a starter.
NFL Forecast: Norris should transition nicely back to linebacker. He could work in the 3-4 scheme, but I think he projects fairly well in the 4-3 as well. I think he could even play inside linebacker as well, mainly because he's not a superb athlete. I'm not sure he'll be a starter, but there is some upside there. He'll need some time to develop, and will have to impact on special teams for a few years before he's ready to play on regular defense. Coverage will be his biggest obstacle, but he was a safety in high school, so it's not brand new to him. I think he can develop enough there to be a competent starter. I don't think he'll be an impact pass rusher coming off the edge, but he can be a guy that can routinely get 2-4 sacks each year. I'd probably start him off as a SAM back in the 4-3, but could make the eventual transition to MIKE down the road. Not as fast as I want in a weakside guy. In the 3-4, he doesn't have ideal size on the edge, and might need to start off inside.
ATL Forecast: Norris could be a nice developmental prospect for the Falcons as a backup strongside linebacker. He is unlikely to unseat Stephen Nicholas in the near future, but could be develop for two or so years, all the while contributing on the special teams, and then push for a starting position. I don't think he'll be a great starter, but a decent stopgap for a year or two until the team finds someone better. MOre than likely however he'll provide depth for the team at either outside or inside linebacker and help out on special teams.
Value: Norris has some potential and is worth a late round pick for a team with the patience to develop him. I'd take him in the seventh.
Scouting Reports of inside and outside linebackers in the 2009 NFL Draft
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