The Case for Josh Norman

Josh Norman was drafted last year as a 5th round pick out of Costal Carolina University. As a rookie Norman proved that he can be pivotal player for Carolina’s secondary. He showed he can disrupt passing routes as well as throwing off the entire play itself. Though his hands are not exactly up to the caliber of the rest of the Carolina Panthers Cornerbacks, he ended his rookie year with one interception with twelve starts out of the sixteen games he played. Compared to new pickups, Drayton Florence, who also had one interception, but started three games out of eight in which he played in, and D.J. Moore, who had two interceptions with two starts in the thirteen games in which he played in. So compared to the two newest Panther Corners, his stats don’t really compare, and both Moore and Florence where regulated to the bench for most of the season.

Nov 18, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) on the field. The Buccaneers defeated the Panthers 27-21 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Norman started for most of last season playing alongside Munnerlyn, Gamble, and Josh Thomas. With that changing lineup of starters, I would have to imagine it would be hard to find some sort of stability in play styles and leadership with changing partners on the opposite end of the field. And with the changes in the Safety positions I’m sure it only added to the instability that Norman felt as the leading Cornerback with Gamble out. (Norman took the #1 CB spot for a few games following Gamble’s injury.) Norman was said to slack off near the end of the season as well, Rivera took him from the starting spot and relegated him to the third spot on the depth chart, and then later to the fourth spot.

I really hated seeing Norman slip. I think he has a lot of talent and can prove to be one of the top, if not the best Cornerback on the roster. Now the problem that Josh Norman faces is just that, gaining the starting spot back form the newest Corners on the Panther’s roster.

Out of the three top Corners that we have, Moore, Florence, and Norman; Norman and Florence both prove to be the tallest, standing in at 6 foot 0 inches. Moore comes in at 5 foot 9 inches. Now I’m sorry to all you Munnerlyn fans out there, I like him too, his two pick-sixes last year proved to be the key turning points in their respective games. I think Munnerlyn will just be keeping his spot as the third or maybe fourth CB, the others are just more talented than him, but that is just my opinion.

Depending on how things turn out at Training Camp, I think the starting two spots are up in the air for the three players to take. Norman and Florence definitely have the height on Moore, which in the NFL accounts for a lot. Moore does have the better track record, recording 10 career receptions in three years of actual play. (He was drafted in ’09 but only played in three games with no stats recorded.) Florence does have more interceptions, 14 on his career, but Moore’s stats are more impressive compared to the respective differences in experience.

September 9, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) catches the ball as Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) defends at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Now Norman has a huge opportunity to prove himself to the entire NFL. The coaching staff has already said that he has improved in numerous ways, his attitude more than likely being the biggest difference maker in the added respect that he has gained from the coaching staff. He has the ability, but the willingness to work may be the one thing that sets him apart from the rest of the crowd. Carolina needs help in the Secondary, and I would be definitely willing to give up my keenness to support Norman over a possible Playoff spot any day.

That’s what I think about Josh Norman, but what do you guys think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.