You don’t announce a pick as a “Swiss Army knife” if that player’s versatility isn’t one of your main interests in bringing him in. Suffice it to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers value the positional flexibility of seventh-round defensive back Tre Norwood. Given that they have lost help everywhere in the secondary, he can address a number of shortages, and that’s something he welcomes.
“The most I played in college, my first two years was corner, but then this last season, I was honestly a great about at nickel and safety”, he told reporters last week during rookie minicamp. “I would go back and forth between the both of them. So for me, the comfort level is honestly at any one of them, because I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of reps at each of those positions, so wherever the coaches see fit for me, wherever I help out the team best, that’s the position I’m most comfortable with”.
It’s always good to hear a player say that he’s most comfortable wherever he’s most helpful to the team, even if it’s not entirely true. Perhaps he is in fact more comfortable at one position than another. What matters is whether he is willing and capable of playing anywhere.
Since last season, the Steelers have lost outside starting cornerback Steven Nelson, slot defender Mike Hilton, and safeties Sean Davis and Jordan Dangerfield, the former more of a free safety and the latter a strong safety. That’s virtually every position in the secondary.
Given the pieces they have lost, it’s probably why they valued a player like Norwood in the seventh round who could fit in wherever needed. It certainly should help him make the roster, which is always the case for late-round picks. Flexibility is your friend. “The more you can do”, as head coach Mike Tomlin says.
After the draft, the Steelers did add veteran defensive back Arthur Maulet. Pittsburgh lists Maulet as a safety, though he is also capable of moving around in the secondary. He figures to be a candidate for that nickel role, along with cornerbacks like Justin Layne and James Pierre.
The most valuable flexibility that Norwood could demonstrate for himself over the course of the next few months is ultimately the ability to play at a high level on special teams. If you’re a late-round defensive back and you can’t make yourself useful to your special teams coordinator, you’re going to have a hard time sticking around.