Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Denver Broncos [Print without images]

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Countdown to on the clock: Kevin Norwood

By Jeff Legwold

The home stretch is finally in sight as the, say it with me, May draft is just two days away. And in the final countdown before everybody is really on the clock, it's time to take a one-a-day look at some specific players who could find their way into the Broncos draft class by the time the seven rounds come to a close.

Today: Wide receiver Kevin Norwood.

In a draft class brimming with wide receivers who possess size, speed and high-end play-making ability, there will be value, including future starters, to be found all over the board.

So, there is no reason for any team to trade picks away to move up to get one unless, of course, the targets are either Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins. But after this draft's top two pass-catchers there are still plenty to be found. So much so that opinions vary around the league about how they should be ranked because there is something for everyone.

And while the Broncos like speed and athleticism as much anybody else, they also need players who can think quickly on the fly and work in an offense with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback that does most of its business without the benefit of a huddle. A player not ready for that kind of mental challenge won't be able to offer much as a rookie.

While the Broncos don't need a rookie to jump in and be a 50-catch player, they do need some additional depth at the position as as well as some youth with Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas each poised for unrestricted free agency following the 2014 season. For his part, Norwood has unselfishly flourished in an Alabama offense that featured far more run than passes in his career. Last season the Crimson Tide ran the ball 96 more times than they threw it.

As a result Norwood, who played in 48 games over four seasons in Tuscaloosa, had 29 receptions as a junior to go with 38 as a senior. Those two years wouldn't even be a full season's work for some of the guys on the board -- Evans had 147 catches in his two seasons at A&M.

But as a pro prospect Norwood brings plenty to table. At 6-foot-2, 198 pounds he has a powerful frame to go with 4.44 speed in the 40-yard dash at the league's scouting combine earlier in the year.

And just as important for the Broncos is Norwood is a savvy player with a high football intellect. A look at his game video shows an instinctive route runner who understands what the defense is trying to do in many situations. He's well versed in the little things too, a technically sound player with few glaring holes in his work.

He also, better than many receivers in this draft, sets up defensive backs in man coverage to create space to catch the ball and consistently works back to the quarterback when the rush has flushed the passer from the pocket.

In the end he's a player who figures to adjust quickly to the workload of an NFL team having already spent five seasons, including a redshirt year, in Nick Saban's program. The Broncos won't have to go far for any outside evaluation on Norwood's play as well as his work ethic and character off the field.

Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase worked for Saban at both Michigan State and LSU. Gase also made a trip to Alabama in recent weeks to visit with Saban and others on the Alabama coaching staff. All in all, Norwood would contribute right from the start.