(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman.)
Name: Josh Norman
Experience: 4 seasons
2016 vs. Cowboys:The Cowboys and Redskins resume their annual two-game division rivalry in Week 2 (Sept. 18) at FedExField, followed by Washington's trip to AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving Day for the second time in the last five seasons. The Cowboys lead the all-time series, 66-42-2.
What's the Deal: The fact Norman is facing the Cowboys again this season – not once, but twice – is a surprise. The All-Pro cornerback helped the Panthers earn a dominant 33-14 victory at AT&T Stadium last Thanksgiving, and Carolina gave Norman the franchise tag after the season – seemingly ensuring he'd remain with the team for at least another year. In late April, with contract extension talks slowed, the Panthers shocked the league by rescinding the one-year guaranteed tag worth $14 million, effectively making Norman an unrestricted free agent. Five days later he reached a five-year, $75 million deal with the Redskins.
Expect This:Norman is one of the league's best success stories, a fifth-round pick by the Panthers in 2012 who has developed into one of the league's most effective cornerbacks, making his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro team last year. His expected matchup with Dez Bryant twice a year should be great theater. Battling foot and ankle injuries for much of last season, Bryant had two catches for 26 yards in the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day loss to Carolina. When healthy, it's a battle between two of the most dominant players at their respective positions.
Previous Meetings:Norman had two tackles in last year's game as the Panthers forced three Tony Romo interceptions. As a rookie for Carolina in 2012, Norman had four tackles in a 19-14 loss to the Cowboys. Romo completed 24 of 34 passes to seven different receivers for 227 yards and a touchdown.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Super productive. Has a great feel for the game and displays an outstanding ability to make plays on the ball.
- In zone coverage, he reads and reacts quickly and decisively with a natural burst. His hips are loose and fluid in his drop and when he turns to run downfield.
- He doesn't struggle to run but he doesn't have great timed speed. Will surprise you in his ability to run.
- In press coverage, he really shines. Shows a great physicality and mixes it up well to re-route the runner. Knows how to stay in position and maintain his leverage on the outside. Has a feel for how to play the route. At times, he can be overly aggressive whether it is leaning forward in his press or taking an early jump on the ball.
- Makes fearless plays. Super confident when he is going after the ball. Plays it well in the air. Has soft hands. Had four interceptions with two that were returned for touchdowns during the season. Caused three fumbles as well.
- One of his best traits is the lack of space that he allows a receiver to work. Small windows when he is in coverage.
- When you study his game you don't see him give up big plays. He's a solid tackler and breaks down well to finish the play. Had 48 tackles for the season.
- Not afraid to mix it up. Has the ability to back up his cocky attitude. Shows the ability to get in the head of his opponent and affect the way they play.
The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys.