With their 5th round pick (#143 overall) the Panthers selected a local favorite, CB Josh Norman from Coastal Carolina. The Panthers were looking for a CB in this draft but waited for a value pick and Norman fits the bill. Norman has great size and even better ball instincts. He essentially opened the Panthers coaches eyes at the Senior Bowl practices when he picked off six passes during the week of practice leading up to the game. Before that he had a great East-West Shrine game. When he got to the combine you had guys like Mike Mayock and Deion Sanders really talking Norman up. He seemed like a 3rd round pick at that point.
2011 Honors: First-team All-American...First-team All-Big South Conference selection...Became the first player from Coastal Carolina and only the second from the Big South Conference to play in the Senior Bowl.
Records Set: Finished career first in conference and school history with 48 passes defensed and second with 13 interceptions...Totaled 196 tackles and four forced fumbles...Tied school record with four blocked kicks.
Strengths: Norman has nice size at 6'0" 190 lbs, 32.5 inch arms and a great feel for the game. He displays a great ability to make plays on the ball. In zone coverage, he reads and reacts quickly and decisively with a natural burst. His hips are loose and fluid in his drop and when he turns to run downfield.In press coverage, he really shines. Shows a great physicality and mixes it up well to re-route the runner. At times, he can be overly aggressive (whether it is leaning forward in his press or taking an early jump on the ball), but DB coaches want to see a certain fearlessness to make the plays that are asked of them. He's a solid tackler and breaks down well to finish the play.
Weaknesses: The biggest knock is that he only ran a 4.66 at the combine which is not considered fast fro a NFL CB at all. The lack of top end speed may limit him to press man coverage but that is what the Panthers need. Some reports say he an adequate tackler and others say he needs to work on wrapping up. Also, 14 reps on the bench press says he needs to work on his upper body strength a little.
There are also some character concerns regarding Norman who can come across as very cocky at times. His 2009 arrest for driving on a suspended license was also a concern that I'm sure was a hot topic in his interviews at the combine.
Value of the Pick: Depending on your source Norman was projected to be selected anywhere from the 3rd to the 7th round. Given it was a very deep draft at CB Norman looks like good value at #143. Should he end up a starter as some are projecting then he would be great value in the 5th round.
Fit in the Depth Chart: The Panthers have needed a press man corner with size to play across from Chris Gamble ever since letting Ken Lucas leave in free agency. Norman will get his chance to compete for that spot along with Darius Butler and Brandon Hogan. His ability to jump routes and break on the ball will serve him well in the long run.
On a side note, Norman is not the only Chanticleer to play for Carolina. Heck he's not even the only one on the current roster. Former safety Quinton Teal is from Coastal and recently signed free agent Mike Tolbert went to Coastal as well. Originally from Greenwood, SC I love seeing local kids get to stay in state to realize their dream of playing in the NFL.
Highlights: Check his highlight reel, in particular the 3rd INT that was quite a remarkable play on the ball. I just love this guys ball skills: