The Carolina Panthers’ certainly don’t feel as confident about the wide receiver position at the end of August as they did at the beginning. At that time, the Panthers still had a healthy Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess and Jerricho Cotchery.
Well in that short time they lost Benjamin for the season and Funchess has yet to show he can get over a nagging hamstring injury. The last preseason game against the New England Patriots had to raise concerns with their number one wide receiver, Corey Brown, catching only one pass out of seven targets.
So the fact the team went out and traded for Kevin Norwood makes sense and more importantly got a player who can produce right away. Norwood was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round last year and had a rather quiet rookie season with only nine receptions for 102 yards.
While on the surface, these numbers look pretty bad for a rookie wide receiver. However, he was playing in an offense that finished last in passing attempts and 27th in passing yards. It wasn’t necessarily because it was a bad passing game but the Seahawks run game is the best in the league and they could lean heavily on that.
One of the first things that stands out about Norwood is that he has the physical traits to be the prototypical Panthers’ wide receiver. The front office has been on the lookout for big wide receivers who can go up and grab high passes. At 6’2” and 199 yards, Norwood has the size to be able to do that.
There wasn’t a whole of film on Norwood during his time with Seattle but he showed incredible physical abilities while at the University of Alabama. In this game against Tennessee in 2013, Norwood runs a crossing route and catches the ball and turns up field and leaps over a defender before being hit.
The other thing that has stood out while watching Norwood is the fact that he has good hands and doesn’t drop many passes he should catch. During his rookie season he caught nine out of the 10 targets he saw.
There may not have been a more impressive play then the catch he made in the same game against the Tennessee Vols. Quarterback A.J. McCarron starts to scramble as protection breaks down and Norwood turns up field to give him a target. As he is falling backwards he is able to get one hand on it and bring the catch in.
It remains to be seen exactly what role Norwood is going to have in this offense. He will have to learn the playbook as quickly as possible and get in rhythm with quarterback Cam Newton. Neither is an easy task or happens overnight.
Right now he is sitting at the bottom of the depth chart because he isn’t up to speed. If he shows that he has sure hands and can give Newton confidence that if he throws his way that he will catch it, he should jump quickly to the top of this group.
*All .gifs courtesy of Draftbreakdown.com
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