Last year Josh Norman was a first-team All-Pro cornerback, meaning that in the judgment of the voters he was one of the two best corners in the game. This offseason he became one of the very few players who earned such honors to change teams. Will he make the All-Pro team again this year? Tandler and Tarik take a look.
Let me begin by saying that I think signing Norman was the right move for the Redskins. He instantly becomes the team’s best player on defense, he’s in his prime years (28 years old) and figures to shore up a great area of need on a unit that yielded a combined 65 passing touchdowns the past two seasons and sorely lacked a legit playmaker. He’ll also replace the swagger (there’s your favorite term Tandler!) on the backend that was lost when Chris Culliver went down.
Buuuuuuuut…I am wary of a couple of things. First, the Redskins’ defense, while on the upswing, it still doesn’t feature all the pieces that the Luke Kuechly-led Panthers boast (three first team All-Pros and a second teamer). Second, although Norman says his adjustment to Joe Barry’s scheme has been a seamless one this spring, it still takes a while to get comfortable with everything, especially with the players around you, which is especially critical in the secondary. What I’m saying here is that I anticipate Norman will be better in Weeks 4 and 5 than he is in Weeks 1 and 2. So, in summary, I think Norman will have a very good year. I think he’ll be a difference maker and will give the Redskins their money’s worth. I’m just not sure he’ll be able to attain the elite status he enjoyed in 2015 as a key cog in a star-laded lineup.
One factor that gives you a big boost when it comes to making All-Pro is having been All-Pro the year before. You are fresh in the minds of the voters and often all you really have to do is not fall flat on your face to get consideration for a repeat appearance on the elite list. That doesn’t mean that Norman is an automatic to repeat but he does check that important box.
Another factor that is important is team success. Of the 27 players named first-team All-Pro (including specialists) last year only nine were on teams that did not make the playoffs. Only three were on teams with double-digit losses. Although it’s supposed to be an individual honor team success is important. Chances are the Redskins will be successful enough to give Norman a shot.
As Tarik points out, the other 10 players on Carolina’s defense helped Norman earn the All-Pro nod and that is an important factor. And while the Redskins’ other 10 players probably are not as good as the 10 Panthers who surrounded Norman last year it doesn’t really matter. A cornerback’s best friend is a pass rush and with Junior Galette, Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan, and a few others up front I think that Norman can expect to see plenty of hurried throws, giving him enough interception opportunities to earn a repeat nod on enough All-Pro Ballots.