Scouting Report: Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
A very underrated receiver
Is it me, or can some players hide in plain sight? Kevin Norwood has been playing on the national stage for years and all he’s done is produce. The numbers may not be gaudy, but Alabama is a run-based offense that spreads the ball in the passing game. They’ve also played with a lot of leads during Norwood’s career. This is definitely a player where the film should trump the stats. Nevertheless, when I scan the interwebs to see how this year's receiving class stacks up, I see Norwood ranked in the twenties and even thirties. That’s a joke, folks.
When you watch Norwood, you see some very good traits. He’s fundamentally sound and has obviously soaked up the coaching at Alabama. As a player, he has contributed more each season and his reputation as a teammate is very good. You also won’t be reading about any off-field issues. Norwood is a very solid kid, and if the level of disrespect he’s been getting continues, he could be a dynasty steal in a month or so.
Norwood received a Combine invite and here are his numbers.
- Height - 6’2”
- Weight - 198
- Arm Length - 32 1/8”
- Hands - 10”
- 40 - 4.48
- Bench - 8
- Vertical Jump - 33”
- Broad Jump - 121”
- 3-Cone Drill - 6.68 (T4th)
- 20 YD Shuttle - 4.32
- 60 YD Shuttle - 11.46
Though he’s a little lean, you can see he has nice length and a big set of hands which you can see him taking advantage of on film. He also showed his speed, which probably surprised some detractors. Perhaps the most important number is his 3-Cone time, which underscores Norwood’s short area quickness, which he uses to get open and to pick up extra yards after the catch. Norwood is a more sudden athlete than he gets credit for. That 3-Cone time bested the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Bruce Ellington. Not bad.
So, what do we like about Norwood’s game?
- Hands - He has excellent ability with his hands and makes big catches for his team in big spots. He uses his hands with confidence unlike a lot of college receivers and makes plays away from his frame. He does everything you look for. This guy is NFL-ready. His hands are on par with players like Beckham Jr., and Sammy Watkins.
- Routes - Norwood’s a very experienced player because of the system he comes from. ‘Bama practices hard and their players know and understand the game when they leave. Norwood is a good route runner with sound fundamentals. He shows an understanding of how to play against zone and is the first guy A.J. McCarron is looking for when the pocket falls apart. Norwood works back to his quarterback the way you want to see. Again, he is doing NFL things at the college level just like the two guys from LSU.
- Ball skills - While his athleticism may be just good, we love the way Norwood goes after the football. He has the “my ball” mentality that we look for. Again, we see some of the same traits we see with Jarvis Landry and Beckham Jr.. He attacks the ball and has excellent timing which allows him to high-point the ball with his 10” hands.
- Speed - While he gets knocked for his long speed, Norwood flashed a sub 4.5 time in Indianapolis. Speed is a plus for Norwood, not a minus. He’s got all the wheels he needs to be a very effective NFL receiver.
- Size - While he could use a bit of bulk at 198 pounds, he has a nice long frame, which he uses well in contested situations.
- Leadership - I could do an article on this kid’s degree of character. His maturity and work ethic are well documented. You will get an outstanding individual when you draft Norwood.
- Production - No, he did not post gaudy numbers, but he did get better every year and our regulars know we like to see that.
Here’s a look at Norwood in his senior season against Tennessee.
Here's another look from 2013, this time against Kentucky.
For me, the film speaks volumes. Norwood’s critics point out his mediocre speed, though he put a cork in some of that at the Combine. They talk about a lack of production without fully comprehending what goes on at Alabama in terms of how they run the offense and what they ask of their receivers. What we see is an NFL-ready receiver that mastered his craft at the college level and that includes good blocking skills.
I rarely get the least bit emotional about players that I’m grading, but in Norwood’s case, I have to say, my cold inner shell got a little soft. This is Norwood describing what his childhood was like in the wake of Hurrican Katrina. “When I was in ninth grade. We had no lights, no water, no food. Every day, me and my friend would get on our bikes and go find food to help our family out, go find bottles of water because you couldn't drink the water – it was contaminated. So many of those nights just struggling, getting eaten up by mosquitoes, sweating. We had the windows down, but it was still hot. We had no electricity, so we couldn't turn on the fan. It was really crazy. That was an experience that I know God wanted me to experience, just to make sure I stay humble and make sure I appreciate everything I have today.”
Today, this kid is on his way to the NFL, and, if he doesn’t make it, he has a Master’s Degree to fall back on. Impressive. Here’s McCarron on Kevin Norwood. "Kevin Norwood is the best teammate I've ever had. I know exactly where he's going to be on the field at anytime."
This is a player I am very comfortable sticking my neck out on, as we did with Kenny Stills last year. Coach Turner and I are both sold on his game film. People are asleep on Norwood for whatever reason. Maybe it's subconcious "wide right" redux or something. I don't know, but when all is said and done, he will be one of the better players in this draft class. I have no idea when he’ll be taken, but I feel very strongly that, when we regrade the 2014 class in a few years, this guy will be very high. He’s a player to know about for dynasty because he can make an impact quickly. A team like Carolina would be well served to go after Norwood if he gets into the late rounds ... and he just might.
A lot of players from Alabama see their fame peak in college. That’s not going to be the case with Kevin Norwood. He’s an NFL option all the way. How so many people have missed him is beyond me. He’s been playing at the biggest program in the country--hiding in plain sight.
He can be a find for you, and a cheap one at that.
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Other 2014 Scouting Reports:
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A & M
- Dustin Vaughan, QB, West Texas A & M
- Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
- Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
- Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
- L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri
- Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
- Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
- Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
- Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
- Dri Archer, RB, Kent State
- Terrance West, RB, Towson
- Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern
- Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
- Post Draft Rookie RB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft TE Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft QB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft RB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft WR Rankings
- 2017 Pre Combine Rankings
- Postseason Cheatsheets
- Tight End Rankings Week 17
- Wide Receiver Rankings Week 17
- Running Back Rankings Week 17