Blocking: Alabama WR Kevin Norwood

Orange with pepper? Might as well watch a wide receiver in college football block. Right? Photo by Robert Tewart.
Orange with pepper? Might as well watch a wide receiver in college football block. Right? Photo by Robert Tewart.

To the casual college football viewer, wide receivers and blocking go together like orange slices with pepper or french fries dipped in a Frosty. Both seem odd, but they work. A receiver who does his best to make the position and the task fit together Alabama’s Kevin Norwood.

I can think of dozens of receivers at the college level that I’ve seen who are better blockers. However, sometimes there’s a play worth showing because it’s instructive. This run block in the Texas A&M game is a good example of gauging the correct angle. And football at its best is the ability to anticipate and address the angles of the opposition.

This is a great angle by Norwood. Watching the play at full speed you might think he overran his target. But if Norwood overran the safety, how could he make the correct decision to turn the defender to the sideline without seeing the hole that his running back chose?

As with any play call, Norwood knows the general direction of this run and understands that his job is to seal the defender to the outside. The Crimson Tide receiver takes an angle to the safety’s inside shoulder to force the defender on an outside path. If the defender beats Norwood’s block to the outside, there’s a greater chance he’ll overrun the path to the ball carrier.

If the defender doesn’t get outside, Norwood has an easier task of turning the safety to the sideline and driving the defender backwards. This is a good example of leverage by body position in the run game.

By no means is this a perfect block. Norwood is overextended as he makes the turn. His pads and head are down and too far ahead of his hips. At this point, he has lost control of his form and his body. The safety should have been able to grab Norwood by the pads and rip the receiver outside and then take an inside path to the ball carrier. Instead, the safety tries to throw Norwood inside towards the ball carrier.

While inventive, the safety also has to improve his skills at shedding blocks because this decision is the difference between a third and short and a first down.

As for those of you wondering about Norwood as an NFL prospect, I’ll have more about him in the coming months. I will tell you that he has the athleticism and baseline skills against tight coverage to compete for a roster spot. The key for Norwood will be consistency in the passing game and effort like this in the run game. Compared to the pack of receivers draft analysts will lump Norwood, the Alabama senior is ahead of the game in this respect.

For analysis of skill players in this year’s draft class, download the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio.The 2014 RSP will available April 1 and if you pre-order before February 10, you get a 10 percent discount. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the 56-page Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2014 RSPs at no additional charge and available for download within a week after the NFL Draft. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.

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