Hearing your name called in the NFL Draft is only something about 255ish football players around the world ever get to experience in any given year. It’s not a requirement to make it in the league—the Pittsburgh Steelers have certainly had their share of undrafted success stories—but it’s still a moment you never forget if you have the opportunity to experience it.
We often hear the draft stories when the event is around the corner, as it is now, and third-year Steelers safety Tre Norwood recently shared his own for the team’s website. Interestingly, though not surprisingly in hindsight, he said he had very little contact with the team, which is less common for Pittsburgh with late-round picks.
“I didn’t really talk to the Steelers at my pro day”, he recalled, writing his own account for the site. “I had minimal contact with the Steelers through the process as a whole, except for the Senior Bowl where we meet with all teams. Other than that, I had very minimal contact with them during the process”.
As he recalls, the 2021 pre-draft process was an unusual one. The second year of the pandemic, there was no NFL Scouting Combine that year, placing greater urgency on Pro Day performances and cutting down on the opportunities to make contact with prospects.
Teams at the time were also permitted to make video calls with prospects, an unlimited amount overall though each would be timed. From the sounds of it, the Steelers did not do that with Norwood, relying primarily on their contact with him during the Senior Bowl.
As we noted shortly after the 2021 NFL Draft, in which the Steelers drafted him 245 overall, Pittsburgh did not send a large contingent to Norwood’s Pro Day at Oklahoma, including then-assistant offensive line coach Chris Morgan. They did not send any of their defensive backs coaches.
Yet the fact that he is still in the league two years removed from his draft suggests that there was something smart in their decision. What they saw in his tape was a versatile and intelligent defender and that is what he has shown to be, even if he has not as of yet developed into a full-time starter.
While it’s not clear exactly what role he will serve moving forward, Norwood is likely to make his third roster later this fall as a member of the secondary group. He joins Minkah Fitzpatrick, Damontae Kazee, Keanu Neal, and Miles Killebrew as a special teamer at the safety position, but his versatility to play in the slot also affords him some leeway.
Norwood played little in the second half of the 2022 season on defense once Kazee returned from a broken forearm. With Kazee and Neal now ahead of him on the depth chart in addition to Fitzpatrick, it may be difficult for him to find reps. Perhaps he could see time in the slot. His first role as a rookie was actually as the slot defender.