Tuesday, February 28 is the final day for the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. With nearly every team seriously searching to improve its secondary, the spotlight will not be limited to the big-name star-studded defensive backs from the major programs.
In the East-West Shrine game, the 6-2, 190-pound prospect shined in front of scouts' eyes with a dazzling display of footwork, technique and instinctive ball skills. He was a walk-on at Coastal Carolina and his stock is rising faster than the price of gas.
Josh Norman chalked up 196 tackles—including 7.0 TFL—along with 35 pass deflections and 13 interceptions in four seasons in his college career. While he'll occasionally get beat on a double move, Norman is excellent overall in coverage and has the speed to recover. Earlier this week I had a chance to interview him over the phone.
Josh Norman: Shine and bright as I waiting for the wheels to fall in place!
Oren Shiri: What do look forward to in showing the scouts and coaching staff during the Combine?
Norman: How I can play with competition at the next level by turning heads.
Shiri: What advantages do you possess over other prospects at your position?
Norman: Hard work, dedication, the thought of never being defeated and the will to succeed.
Shiri: Have you spoken to anyone currently in the NFL—and if so—who?
Norman: Jerome Simpson, who went to the same school.
Shiri: Growing up, did you have a specific team and player you enjoyed watching over any other?
Norman: Peyton Manning, the sheriff master mind of the Colts and Bob Sanders. It's important to remember this was only one year, not two or three. The media exaggerate like the Jeremy Lin thing.
Shiri: What sets you apart from everyone else entering this draft class?
Norman: I'm very versatile and feel like I can shut down anyone on the field on the opposing side. The lack of adequate coverage of tight ends seemed to be lacking last season in the NFL and I know I can lock down on them on defense and bring that to the table.
Shiri: Which active NFL player do you look up to most?
Norman: Charles Woodson.
Shiri: What memory or play do you remember most in college?
Norman: Our team was up by seven on the last play of the game. I already had an interception in the game, but the quarterback still continued to pick on me and threw it up and I leaped up off the ground and came away with the game-ending Hail Mary interception.
Shiri: What excites you most about playing at the next level?
Norman: Good confidence, playing with the best and becoming the best. There is no point in getting in the game if you're not the best.
Shiri: What type of scheme do enjoy playing and why (Man, Zone, stopping the run/pass, etc.)?
Norman: Both. I enjoy man-coverage best since it is the one-on-one match of the best, but operating in the zone is fun too, since you can receive gifts, take it home and play mind games with the opposing quarterback.
Shiri: Who would you like to pick off your first NFL interception against?
Norman: Brees, Brady or Rodgers. It would be a dream to pick off two in a row or in consecutive contests.
Shiri: How do you feel you can elevate your game into the next level?
Norman: Movement and balance. I'm a long guy with a longer reach that requires more steps.
Shiri: Other than football, what types of hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
Norman: I'm a relaxed, laid-back kind of guy and a movie-goer. I have a 70' inch television at home, where I enjoy watching my favorite film 3oo and others like Gladiator and war movies.
I appreciate his time and look forward to keeping up with him after his Pro Day and heading into the 2012 NFL Draft. I'm sure he'll do well—if not completely excel—at the 2012 NFL Combine.
He's a fun-loving, extremely confident cornerback with exponential potential. I really also appreciate his insight and intelligence for the game and believe any NFL team will be lucky and happy to have him suiting up for them on the battlefield on Sunday.
He has the tools, confidence and tricky technique to become a headache for opposing offenses and the power to put it all together to become successful at the next level.