Defensive tackle Kendrick Norton has been a starter along Miami’s defensive line the past two seasons. Filling a void at a position that the Hurricanes have struggled to fill, the big tackle from Jacksonville, Florida, provided more than just adequate size. Over the next couple of seasons, Norton showcased his ability to keep linemen from reaching the second level to block out linebackers, stood his ground against the run game and get penetration in the face of the quarterback to fuel Miami’s pass rush.
Measurables and Path to the Draft
Weight: 314 pounds
Arm Length: 33¾ inches
Hand Size:10¾ inches
High School: Trinity Christian High School (Jacksonville)
Best Game Film: Florida State (2016)
As an interior defender, Norton needed to use his hands to have a shot at making and being involved in plays. Norton was able to accomplish this by ripping, swimming and stabbing blockers to free himself to pursue plays. It’s rare to find film of Norton not working his hands to get away from a blocker, regardless of whether he was slanting to another gap from his initial rush or being a looper in stunt.
Holds His Ground
Doing an admirable job of fending off double-teams, Norton holds his ground well in the run game. On stretch runs, you’ll see No. 7 spill blockers to the wayside and occasionally force a runner to gear down to look for an alternative path. Never taking too many backsteps, Norton is excellent at stifling blockers at the line of scrimmage.
Finding a defensive lineman who is willing to chase down plays in backside pursuit is a difficult search. Finding a defensive tackle who would do the same is also a difficult proposition. Norton does a great job of running down plays, even at his size, to prevent cutback opportunities. Be it a QB scramble or a running back taking it wide, Big Thick makes an effort to stay in the play for the majority of snaps.
Dominants in One-on-Ones
Norton is simply too strong for many a college offensive linemen to block one-on-one and get the upper hand, specifically guards and centers.
Takes Himself out of Plays
Whether because of his eagerness to make a play in the backfield or not recognizing the setup of the play, Norton has the tendency to take himself out of the play or just far enough from the ball carrier that he can’t make a play on the ball. If Norton goes one way, it takes a full heartbeat for him to get restarted in the direction of the play because of his poor ability to redirect. This may not be an issue if Norton is put into a scheme that has him moving north instead of northwest or northeast.
There is no way that a man of Kendrick Norton’s size should disappear during games. There are moments in games where he will continue to hand fight with a blocker instead of disengaging and moving toward the play. Given the job that Norton is tasked with, he does accumulate enough tackles, tackles-for-loss and sacks to get fans to pay close attention to him during games.
“Norton, a 6-foot-3, 312-pound force on the interior of the defensive line who is poised for a breakout season. He has the size, strength and power to start climbing up draft charts on a defense that should be among the best in the country in 2018.”
Andrea Adelson ESPN.com
Thick, well-built defensive tackle who, at times, is immovable in the middle. Flashes of strong hand-usage. Has the ability to disengage from blocks on the inside to make impact stops against the run. Limited explosiveness into the backfield but motor is fine.
CBS Sports Staff
“Kendrick Norton had a standout year as Miami rebounded onto the national stage, but scouts see a limited player who needs to continue working on his game and his conditioning. He could be a late-round steal for a team needing a nose tackle on first and second down.”
Matt Miller Bleacher Report
“Norton is the son of newly-hired Oakland defensive coordinator Ken Norton, and the grandson of the late former heavyweight champion, Ken Norton, Senior. Their athleticism and fight have passed down to Kendrick, an athletic widebody who earned honorable mention All-ACC honors in 2017. He played in all 13 games, starting 12 in his junior season, making 26 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and two sacks. Norton made a name for himself as a third-team all-conference selection the previous season, starting all 13 games, compiling 39 tackles, 10 for loss, and two sacks in the middle of the ‘Canes defense. The four-star recruit and Under Armour All-American from Jacksonville played in 12 games as a true freshman in 2015, posting 19 tackles and a sack.”
Lance Zierlein NFL.com analyst
Norton does his job, just not in a SC TOP Ten fashion. He’ll do the dirty work, battling linemen and keeping them off of his linebackers. Norton has the size and work ethic that should be successful in the NFL and is a pupil of Miami DL coach Craig Kuligowski, so there are aspects working in his favor. It is likely that Norton begins his career as a rotational piece as he picks up the speed and scheme of the NFL game. Ideally, Norton could start out as an early-down defender, probably in the two-down variation before earning more snaps. The team that drafts him will love what he can do in the run game in the next level, yet should not be greedy to want to see him parlay that as a pass rusher, because that is not his game.
Draft Projection: Third - sixth round
Good Luck Big Thick!