Josh Norman

Draft Grades: Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers needed to upgrade the talent around Cam Newton, and while they didn’t immediately address their offensive needs, they ended up with a solid group which should help Newton develop in his sophomore season.

The selection of Luke Kuechly came as a surprised, but it was a welcomed one. Kuechly was the best player on the board and will immediately step into a starting role. He is expected to move into the middle linebacker position, with Jon Beason shifting to weak-side linebacker.

I was surprised by the selection of Amini Silatolu, and thought it was a reach, but I do understand their desire to address the interior offensive line. The main issue I have with the selection, however, is the fact that Cordy Glenn was still on the board.

Frank Alexander was a reach in the 4th round. He fits the mold of the type of well-rounded end the Panthers were looking for, but he has an uphill to earn playing time in Carolina. He’ll battle Thomas Keiser and Eric Norwood for playing time.

I love the selection of Joe Adams. At this stage of his career he’s nothing more than a vertical threat, but he’ll have the opportunity to work with Steve Smith in Carolina, one of the game’s elite undersized receivers.

Josh Norman could prove to be a steal in the 5th round, but does come with some character concerns. Having Norman and Brandon Hogan in the same secondary is scary thought. Clearly the Panthers are becoming one of the teams that isn’t concerned with character.

Selecting Brad Nortman in the 6th round was almost as bad as the Jaguars selection of Bryan Anger in the 3rd round. While Anger was a reach, at least he was the elite punter in this year’s class. Nortman was barely on the radar screen. There’s just no reason to waste a pick on a guy like Nortman. A handful of punters of his caliber can be found in the free agency process after each draft.

D.J. Campbell was a solid 7th-round pick. He’s best suited to play free safety, but will enhance his chances of making the final roster if he can demonstrate some versatility in training camp.

Overall, this wasn’t the most exciting draft class, but I like the Panthers approach – especially in the 1st round. Kuechly may not change the direction of this franchise on his own, when rebuilding teams can’t afford to pass up sure things in the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Panthers Comments Off

Josh Norman scouting report

Josh Normal CB Coastal Carolina #24
Ht: 6’0″Wt: 197  
Strengths:
Adequate height and overall size. Great ball skills; can go up and make plays in traffic. A good natural athlete; shows great body control turning to locate the ball and make a play. Looks very good in press coverage; has the strength to physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage and won’t back down from tough assignments. Decent tackling skills for a cornerback.
Weaknesses:
Relies heavily on his raw athleticism; takes a lot of missteps and doesn’t appear to have great anticipation/recognition skills. Will be picked apart by efficient route runners at the next level. Recovery speed is average at best; may struggle with elite deep threats at the next level. Competition level is a minor concern. Arrested in 2009 for driving with a suspended licence. Reportedly isn’t always interested in listening to coaching and may need to mature before he’ll be capable of realizing his full potential.
Comments:
Norman has the size and athleticism to develop into a quality starting cornerback, but he’s too raw to warrant a high pick. He should draw interest from teams willing to invest a 3rd/4th round pick and take the time to develop him over the next two to three years. Given his modest speed and his playmaking ability as a ballhawk, some teams may view him as a potential free safety.
Videos:
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Comments Off

NFL Draft Risers and Fallers through Senior Bowl

It’s still very early in the draft process, but the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl are the first test for the top prospects. With those two all-star games behind us, we can begin to evaluate whose stock is on the rise, and whose stock is starting to fall, before we head to the Combine in late Februrary.

Josh Norman – CB – Coastal Carolina
Norman concluded the season as a relative unknown, having not been tested against top competition, and was expected to be a late-round prospect. However, he shined at the Shrine Game and impressed scouts so much that he earned a late invite to the Senior Bowl. He now looks like a top-100 lock, and could climb as high as the 2nd round.

Alfonzo Dennard – CB – Nebraska
For those that watched Dennard closely this season, his stock probably didn’t change much. But the Senior Bowl served notice to everyone that he just doesn’t have the athleticism or the technique to be considered an elite prospect. There has even been some talk of him moving to free safety in the pros. He rode the momentum of his junior year – when he played opposite Prince Amukamara – as long as he could, but we’ve now seen the real Dennard.

Bobby Wagner – OLB – Utah State
Wagner was already a solid 3rd or 4th-round prospect heading into the Senior Bowl, but may have risen into the early 2nd round with his performance. Aside from his relatively short stature, he’s the complete package. Wagner also benefits from this being a relatively weak class of linebackers. Scouts were impressed with his athleticism, and also with his play on special teams.

Dwight Jones – WR – North Carolina
The knock on Jones, which has become a theme for the Butch Davis-era Tar Heel prospects, is that he lacks effort and concentration. He drops too many balls, and isn’t always a crisp route runner. These issues are magnified due to his relative lack of speed.

Vinny Curry – DE/LB – Marshall
The all-star games are always most important for the small-school prospects, and Curry took advantage of his opportunity to play with the big boys. His best moment came in the one-on-one drills when he had little issue beating Mike Adams off the edge with his speed rush. He definitely displayed the athleticism necessary to play standing up in a 3-4 defense.

Kellen Moore – QB – Boise State
Moore was hoping to establish himself as the next Colt McCoy this offseason, as an undersized but accurate signal caller. Unfortunately, Moore simply doesn’t have an NFL arm. There were even reports of CFL scouts saying they weren’t interested in Moore because they need quarterbacks who can whip the ball through the windy conditions they sometimes face.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft 2 Comments

Weekly Draft Notes

- Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was arrested for possession of marijuana this week. It certainly won’t help his draft stock, but I highly doubt the arrest will have a significantly negative impact either. Front office personnel will have plenty of time to investigate Kirkpatrick by talking to his coaches at Alabama and by interviewing him at the combine. This is his only known run-in with the law, so teams should be willing to look past it.

- One of the biggest stars at the East/West Shrine Game this week has reportedly been Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. I have Norman ranked 16th at cornerback in my recently updated positional rankings, but some believe he could climb much higher. Earlier today, Russ Lande of The Sporting News stated he believed Norman could come off the board in the 2nd round.

- Another riser at the Shrine Game is Missouri Western kicker Greg Zuerline, who I have elevated to the No. 1 spot in the kicker rankings. Zuerline has the best leg of any kicker in this year’s draft, which has teams interested in his services on kickoffs as much as field goals.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off