When Pete Carroll and John Schneider selected University of Alabama-product Kevin Norwood in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, they were drooling at his combination of size and athleticism, traits that Carroll and Schneider seem to always look for in players. At 6-foot-2 and just under 200 pounds, Norwood fits the mold of the possession type of receiver that the Seattle Seahawks have been searching for the past few years. After last year’s fourth-rounder Chris Harper failed to make the team, and with Sidney Rice retiring, Jermaine Kearse is the only receiver left on the returning roster who would be described as a legitimate red zone target — ideally big-bodied and athletic with great hands.
Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson are all effective receivers, but they aren’t big enough targets to get consistent looks when Seattle’s offense goes to the air inside an opponent’s 20 yard line. Ricardo Lockette is big enough and is likely to make the roster, but he is best-known for his incredible speed rather than his hands. Training camp star Phil Bates is an intriguing prospect with a 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame, but he has yet to translate that potential into a game. Then there’s Chris Matthews, a 6-foot-5 former CFL receiver who is fighting for a roster spot with Bryan Walters. It’s possible that neither of them make it through the final roster cuts, especially if the Seahawks keep Norwood around, and depending if Seattle keeps six or seven receivers.
Let’s talk about this Norwood kid. After impressing coaches in many of the offseason activities, the receiver has been sidelined for almost a month following surgery to remove bone spurs from his foot. While he has yet to play a snap in a Seahawks uniform, it may be worth the risk of keeping an injured receiver because of Norwood’s potential. First off, Norwood’s recovery has gone really well and he could return in the next week or two, which means he could be available within the first couple weeks of the regular season at the latest considering he hasn’t played a live snap since college. So Seattle would not be sacrificing much by keeping an injured receiver on the roster.
On top of that is the fact that keeping Norwood gives the Seahawks exactly what they need: a big body in a receiving corps full of undersized talent. Norwood and Kearse would give quarterback Russell Wilson two genuine red-zone targets at the receiver position. Wilson likes to spread the ball around, and having another solid route-runner with good hands is always nice on third downs.
Sure, the Seahawks could keep Bates, Matthews or Walters and be fine. But Norwood has the most upside and he is not as raw as Harper was. He also has the same knack for making big plays that Kearse has, and that is a trait that any team wants in its receivers. Carroll and Schneider have been looking for this type of player, and they may have found it in Norwood. The risk will be worth the reward.