Josh Norman may be just a 5th round rookie, but he’s reportedly impressing in practice and, according to ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas, the Panthers believe he could start as a rookie. Earlier this offseason, the Panthers said they wanted to move Captain Munnerlyn, who started most of the season at cornerback opposite Chris Gamble last year, into the sub packages. Munnerlyn struggled mightily in 2012, allowing 45 completions on 61 attempts (73.8%) for 607 yards (10.0 YPA), 4 touchdowns, no interceptions, 4 deflections, and 8 penalties. The 5-8 cornerback is much better suited for the slot. His struggles were a big part of the reason why the Panthers ranked dead last in YPA allowed.
Norman’s competition for the starting job, aside from Munnerlyn, is Darius Butler and Brandon Hogan. Butler struggled almost as much as Munnerlyn in a few starts last season and Brandon Hogan is a 2011 4th round pick who is reportedly still not 100% after tearing his ACL in his final season at West Virginia. Out of desperation, the Panthers may have to start Norman, who fell all the way to the 5th round. Rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle regardless so while Norman might have been a bit of a steal in the 5th round, I wouldn’t expect him to have a strong season. He could be better in the future.