As we close out the “NFL Christmas” that is the NFL Draft, we are taking a look at some selected players SteelerNation may have not heard about going into the draft. Next up…
Tre Norwood (DB), Oklahoma, Redshirt Junior
SELECTED: 7th Round, 245th Overall
With the departures of Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton, the Steelers’ secondary definitely took a hit in the offseason. The Steelers already had some depth at the cornerback position in Justin Layne and James Pierre, but they were in dire need of a reliable defensive back who could play in the slot and also as a safety. With a lot of the bigger names at defensive back gone in the first two days of the draft, the Steelers were looking for a solid value pick in the last round. This led to head coach Mike Tomlin calling Tre Norwood’s name on the third day of the draft.
Norwood is incredibly athletic and versatile on defense. He was listed as a cornerback going into the draft, but also played safety last year at Oklahoma. Tomlin describes Norwood as a “Swiss Army knife utility back” and he is exactly that. He can line up as a slot cornerback or drop into safety coverage. Norwood plays best in a zone defensive scheme, which is what Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler favors. He has a great eye for the football and is effective at keeping the play in front of him, then breaking on the ball in the air. Norwood’s biggest strength is his catching ability. In 2020, he was tied for second in interceptions with Shakur Brown (each caught 5 interceptions) and even returned one for a touchdown. Norwood showed he has fluid movement in his hips and elite footwork in coverage, and can effectively time his defensive breaks.
Although Norwood possesses effective coverage ability, his tackling and overall physicality is a bit suspect. This may be as result of his smaller stature (5’11”, 192 pounds) and this may pose as an issue in defending against the run. In addition, his size sometimes makes him get pushed around on plays and he can get easily lost in the shuffle at the line. In coverage, Norwood has trouble in press man coverage in disrupting slot receivers’ routes at the line. In the NFL where some of the toughest receivers line up in the slot, this will need to be addressed in camp. In short, although Norwood is an elite coverage player, he lacks in run defense and press man coverage.
Tomlin is known for his ability of spotting elite talent in the secondary that was previously overlooked by most teams. After watching tape on Norwood, he definitely has the right skill set for the Steelers’ zone defensive scheme. Of course physical size on defense is a major asset, we saw with Hilton that a player can be undersized in the slot and still disrupt the offense. In my opinion, Norwood would have been ranked a bit higher in the draft if it wasn’t for a torn ACL injury that forced him to sit out the entire 2019 season. But in 2020, we saw Norwood fight back and be a leader on defense. There is no doubt Norwood sees the field in 2021 and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the defense.
How do you think the Steelers did at the 245th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft? Let us know in the comments below!