By Eric Ronnebeck
In the offseason, the Seahawks were looking for receiving depth after losing Golden Tate to the Detroit Lions. However, instead of chasing receivers in free agency the Seahawks went where they usually go to fill in their roster: the NFL draft. Kevin Norwood was taken by your Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, number 123 overall. He graduated from the University of Alabama, playing 4 years for the Crimson Tide amassing over 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns while playing in two BCS Championship games. Norwood has been sidelined this season while recovering from foot surgery but he’s sure to be thrown into the receiving mix, now that he’s healthy.
At 6’ 2”, Norwood is the same height as Seahawk’s receiver Ricardo Lockette. Where Lockette can burn defenses with his downfield speed, Norwood uses his speed in short pass situations, accelerating to where the pass will be. He showed downfield speed at times during his college career but often fell victim to press coverage, not allowing him to get off the line fast enough. His problems with press coverage stem from a perceived lack of arm strength coupled with short arms, not giving him enough strength or length to help him separate from his defender. Norwood will have to work on his strength and improve against press coverage to be productive at the NFL level. He has shown that he is able to run block so his strength is at least at a point where he can build on it.
Norwood has been praised for his route running ability, not only following the correct line to the ball but also showing the ability to “shake” his defender off his route. One skill that he showed off at the combine is his excellent footwork. When a receiver runs his route he often cuts sharply in one direction to either meet the ball or throw his defender off the route. Kevin Norwood is very good at these cuts and it shows in his quickness coming in and out of his routes. He also shows outstanding body control. When watching his film from college, you notice his ability to turn his body to make space in the open field. This helps him track the ball as it comes to him as well as allow him to break away from his defender to make the catch. This not only shows up in his route running but also when he goes airborne to catch a ball. The flexibility of his torso enables him to twist mid-air to make the catch while keeping his head in the direction of the ball. Norwood’s awareness of where he needs to be, coupled with his body control, helps him to make plays on the ball.
The scouting reports and film show a receiver with natural ability, plus speed, and big hands: all traits you like to see in a receiver. However, since he doesn’t have the height to dominate smaller cornerbacks or the strength to break away from press coverage, we may only see him play in the slot or as a possession receiver. Now that Kevin Norwood is healthy, he’ll have the opportunity to showcase his skills in front of the 12th Man and the opposition. Even with the Seahawks crowded rotation of wide receivers, we’ll see him sooner rather than later.