Rush Linebacker/outside linebacker
40 time: 4.67
Draft board overall prospect rank: #34
Draft board rush linebacker rank: #4
Overall rating: 82*
1/21/10: He has experience playing standing up at South Carolina, despite being a defensive end, and he has looked dropping back into coverage on occasion as well so those are major pluses for rush linebacker prospects that can be so unpredictable. He also has 30 sacks in his 4 year career at South Carolina and had 7.5 this year, so he’s a good pass rusher as well, though not a great one. He’s versatile and can play 4-3 strong outside linebacker and maybe even some 3-4 middle linebacker. His 40 time for his weight could keep him out of the first round.
Update (11/2/09): I may have been wrong on this guy, or at least made a decision too soon. He hasn’t been playing well lately.
10/8/09: On paper, Eric Norwood is one ugly linebacker prospect. He is only about 6 feet and change and barely 250 pounds. That would be ok, if he had any good timed speed. But his 40 time is expected to be in the mid 4.7s. However, Norwood is one of the few 2010 NFL Draft prospect I have seen that simply does nothing wrong. For the position he plays and the position he projects to play at the next level, rush linebacker, he does it all. He has good hands and can drop back in coverage which is something you rarely see out of a young rush linebacker prospect, but none the less its something very important. He is an amazing pass rusher. He is simply relentless in rushing the passer and breaking up the play in the backfield. He’s a real playmaker. He doesn’t have the natural athleticism you’d expect out of an elite pass rusher, but he has an amazing motor and always gets the job done. He proves that natural athleticism, while nice, is not all what its about and there certainly have been players that have survived in the NFL with this than stellar athleticism and a few that have not just survived, but strived. James Harrison, the 2009 NFL defensive player of the year, is a great example. Harrison is a 240 pound rush linebacker with mid 4.8 speed. Norwood’s complete game and motor are comparable to Harrison’s. Norwood isn’t going to be able to play on a defensive line in the NFL because of his lack of size, so if he were to be drafted by a 4-3 team, he would have to move to outside linebacker where he would lose a lot of value. He has a ton of value as a rush linebacker though and could be the first rush linebacker off of the board in a weak rush linebacker class.
NFL Comparison: Mike Vrabel
*=For a breakdown of what this means, click here