NFL Draft Q&A: LB Eric Norwood

Amidst a career of all-conference honors and record-setting statistics, linebacker Eric Norwood left his mark in South Carolina. Now he's ready to do the same in the NFL. While preparing for the NFL Combine, he took a break for this exclusive interview with's Ed Thompson.

Eric Norwood answers additional questions in this two-minute audio clip exclusively for subscribers. Norwood talks about his outstanding tackling skills and why he returned for his senior year even though he had the resume to enter the NFL Draft last year:

Ed Thompson: In 2007 you were voted first-team All-SEC by the league coaches. That had to be a great confidence-booster early in your career to be honored that way in a very competitive conference.

Eric Norwood: Oh yeah, it definitely was to get that respect from the coaches. With that being my first year starting, it was a great confidence booster.  I started building my confidence after my freshman season. I made a couple of the freshman All-American teams and got those honors, and just meeting the coaches after the game and having them say nice things about me and wishing me the best, I took it from there and ran with it.

Thompson: That same season you set a school record with 19.5 tackles for a loss. How did you keep that from going to your head and stay focused so that you could finish strong in your final years at South Carolina?

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Norwood: The way I look at it, everything I achieve every year is just a fraction of my full potential and how good I can be.  So I just try to get better every time I step on the field--practice, game, anytime.

Thompson: In 2008 you led the team with nine sacks and nine quarterback hurries. Talk about your ability to get pressure on the quarterback, because that's something that has a lot of NFL teams interested in you.

Norwood: That's something that I've been working on since I was in the sixth grade by just watching guys.  I grew up in Texas, so the competition level there is pretty high, even in middle school and elementary, so I learned a lot from the guys I was going against.  Then I went on in high school and college, took the coaching along with my athletic ability and tried to max it out.

Thompson: You had three blocked kicks in college. Give us an overview of where you've participated on special teams and how you think you're going to help an NFL team right out of the chute.

Norwood: I participated on punt return, punt, field goal block and anything else I'm asked to do. I go hard on special teams for the simple fact that it's a major phase of the game, especially if it's a low-scoring defensive game where teams can't really move the ball. It's also a momentum changer. This year, every time I blocked a kick it was a momentum changer.  As far as helping an NFL team, I'm that guy you can count on. I'm that guy you don't have to take off the field on fourth down because I'll be on punt return. You can keep me on the field for kickoff, kickoff return. Anything you ask of me, I can do it, do it well and be productive at it.

Thompson: I saw one report that said you started 32 consecutive games and another that said you started 38 consecutive games; do you know which one is right?

Norwood:  It's 38.

Thompson: Your 38 consecutive starts is a great testament to your durability and it's also a big plus for NFL teams who are investing big money in rookies.

Norwood: I train hard in the offseason and keep my body in top shape so I'm able to run, do the things I do and also prevent injuries.  I also stretch a lot and do a lot of things to take care of my body like massages, seeing a chiropractor, and things of that nature.  I think that definitely helps me be durable, especially in the conference I was in. It's a physical conference.

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Thompson: You're days away from the NFL Combine. Do you feel ready? And what do you hope the coaches and scouts will see out of you while you're in Indianapolis?

Norwood: I want them to see that I'm the guy they're looking for.  Anything they need, whether it's inside-backer, outside backer, 3-4, 4-3, it doesn't matter. I can do the job and that's what I want them to see.  I want them to see that I can run and that I'm athletic.

Thompson: Are working on anything specific for the combine?

Norwood: My 40-yard dash is the main thing I'm working on, and position drills.  I'm working on my 40 specifically because I think the last 40 that was recorded for me was like a 4.78 or 4.8 and that's from when I was at defensive end and was 270-275 pounds.  I just have to show these teams that I can run in the 4.6 range.

Thompson: As you're talking to NFL coaches, if one asks you, "tell us why we should use one of our draft picks on you" what are you going to tell them?

Norwood: I'm going to tell them they should use one of their draft picks on me because I'm a good player on the field and I'm not a liability on the field or off the field.  I'm one of those guys who lives football.  It's definitely my life now for the simple fact that I'm dedicated to what I do. I graduated in three-and-a-half years from the University of South Carolina and I think that's an indicator of my dedication to what I do on and off the field.  I'm willing to learn and I'm that guy you're looking for.

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You can follow Ed Thompson on Twitter (@Ed_Thompson). A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at

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