Carolina Panthers’ Josh Norman Realizing His Potential


The Carolina Panthers‘ secondary has been a unit in constant flux this season.  After eight games, and several different starting lineups, it’s time for Josh Norman to stay in a starting slot at cornerback.

When Josh Norman was drafted out of Coastal Carolina in the fifth-round of the 2012 NFL Draft, he was viewed as a player with potential.  Playing at small-school Coastal Carolina, Norman stood out amongst opponents that were inferior to the premier collegiate programs.

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His lanky frame and highlight, playmaking ability jumped off the film.  The question was how long would it be for the youngster to adapt to the talent found throughout the 31 other teams in the NFL.

Norman has spent much of his first three seasons as a training camp superstar, that fizzles once the real bullets started flying.

He had a propensity to talk a lot of unnecessary smack during his rookie year, and it did not back-up his play.  He was inconsistent and had his fair share of bonehead plays over the past two seasons.  Most notably, Norman was the corner that didn’t switch off of his man in the infamous loss in Buffalo last season.

Since then, Norman has been buried on the depth chart due to his immaturity and unpolished technique.

After yet another attention grabbing training camp and preseason this summer, Norman found himself buried as the number five corner.

However, Norman was inserted into the lineup and looked good against Baltimore in week four.  The third-year CB had six tackles and showed that he was capable of being a starting corner in the NFL.  His attitude and physical style of play was important in a game against ex-Panther, Steve Smith.

Smith had a field day against the Panthers’ secondary, but it was mainly Melvin White and Antoine Cason that got torched by Smitty.

Over the next few games, Norman continued getting reps as Melvin White has been benched due to his poor play.  Rookie Bene Benwikere has also missed the previous three games due to an injury, so Norman has been given a second opportunity to make a first impression.

By far his best performance of the season came this past weekend against Seattle.

Norman had six tackles and a huge interception in the end zone that stalled a Seattle drive.  He is a big Richard Sherman fan and I think sees himself as a potential late-round draft pick that teams slept on.  Norman brings a confidence to the field that is very reminiscent of Sherman’s.

Norman’s personality is very outspoken and bordering on cocky.

Until last week, his production on the field has not balanced his cockiness, but we might have seen a metamorphosis beginning last Sunday.

Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Norman has the tools (6’0″, 195-pounds) to succeed at this level.  He has the confidence and memory needed by corners to be successful.  He believes on every play, that he is better than his assignment, and can quickly erase a bad play from his memory.

He presents the Panthers with a sure tackler and someone that is physical.  Norman is great at high-pointing the ball and using his hands properly, while avoiding an interference call.

The Coastal Carolina product is great in man, or zone coverage.  His eyes are always where they need to be and is focused on not getting beaten by his man.  Norman might not have electric speed, but he is fast in space.  I’ve seen a few times where his man had a few steps on him, but Norman caught up to him, and broke the play up.

When he was drafted, the Panthers knew that they had a project on their hands.  They also knew that if he put in the work and was locked in on improving himself as a player, that the reward would be worth the wait.

Cat Crave Nation, the wait is over.  Josh Norman is ready to play opposite Antoine Cason and thrive as a boundary cornerback.  The Seahawks game will give him the confidence boost that he has sorely lacked during the regular season.

Time to close the book on training camp superstar, and start the new book on regular season lockdown cornerback.