The Carolina Panthers cornerback situation is not an ideal one, but it might not be a weakness if Josh Norman can develop as the Panthers think he can. Norman is held in high regard in the Panthers organization, and they reportedly believe that Norman has a fair shot at becoming a No. 1 corner. He was quite the draft day steal as the 143th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he was a nice in-state product from small Coastal Carolina.
After starting the first 12 games of the season, the Panthers decided to bench the surprise rookie against the Kansas City Chiefs. Now according to new Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, Norman came back from that benching “a different kid”.
For Norman, the main thing is becoming more disciplined, gaining experience, and doing a better job of tracking defenders down through an increased Football IQ. The former fifth-round draft pick has been making strides, and he looks like a cornerback of the future for the Panthers. What he needs is experience, close coaching, and the experience will allow him to hold up better in man coverage and figure out routes better.
In college and as a rookie, Norman had a tendency to, as the Charlotte Observer put it in the piece above, to “freelance”. With Chris Gamble gone, the onus is on Norman to take more strides after showing some promise as a rookie. He had plenty of struggles, but there is enough for the Panthers and Gettleman to be justified in holding Norman in high regard.
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