It's not often a seventh-round draft picks comes in and plays the type of role that defensive back Tre Norwood did this year, but it's not often guys like Norwood slip through the cracks to become a seventh-round pick.
Norwood, who was referred to as a 'Swiss Army Knife' by Coach Mike Tomlin when he was drafted, was called out all season for his intelligence, his diversity, and his talent by coaches and teammates, and it showed on the field.
Norwood, who played in all 17 regular season games, starting three, as well as playing in the Wild Card Round game, said he continually felt more comfortable as the season went on, and for this young player, the sky is the limit.
"I feel like I've developed a lot," said Norwood. "With it being a 17-week season, 18 with the playoff game, I feel like each and every week I was able to grow and better myself as a player and just getting comfortable being out there on the field. With it being my first year, and I think that goes back to having Coach T.A. (Teryl Austin), having a coach like Coach Grady (Brown), having those guys in the room taking me under their wings. Huge shout out to them because they were a major part in my growth throughout the season.
"I feel like I'm much more comfortable than I was from the beginning of the season but very far from where I want to be. I want to continue to grow and elevate and continue to get better."
Take a look at photographs of Steelers DB Tre Norwood from the 2021 season
Norwood finished the season with 35 tackles, 30 of them solo stops. He added four pass defenses, two tackles for a loss and an interception. He also contributed on special teams, where he finished with three tackles.
Getting through a rookie season can be a challenge, and it always helps to have a veteran on your side.
For Norwood, he had multiple veterans aiding him in 2021, but one who really took him under his wing was safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
"Minkah's impact on me my rookie season was huge," said Norwood. "That might be an understatement, honestly. He took me under his wing from day one. Having a guy like him, being in the same room with him, being able to be behind him and learn from him. A guy that has been to a couple of Pro Bowls, has been All-Pro a couple times already. To be able to learn from a guy like that has meant so much to me, whether we're on field, whether we're in drills, whatever it is, in the film room.
"I can always ask him a question. If we're at home, I can always shoot him a text if I see something. So just being able to have a guy like that, a vet like that, it means a lot to me. His impact on me was huge and tremendous. And that's probably an understatement, honestly. I'm excited to learn from him throughout this offseason as well. And then whenever we get back and get things going for year two."
Fitzpatrick was among the many who were impressed with the growth and development of Norwood this past year, a seventh-round draft pick who played in all 17 regular season games, starting three.
"Tre is a guy I'm really excited about," said Fitzpatrick. "He came in right away and you could tell he had an IQ for the game. You could tell he loves the game. He's very coachable. Whenever I was in the game, on the field in practice, I would look at him. I would try to coach him up, make sure he was groomed the right way and took him under my wing.
"He's stepped up every week. He's a guy that's definitely going to be beneficial for us in the future. He has nothing but a bright future ahead of him."