Fair or not, Josh Norman is fighting the small-school label that's been put on him by some draft analysts.
The Coastal Carolina cornerback played in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision and there's always a concern with smaller-school players about the level of completion they're used to playing and how their game might transition to the NFL level.
"I get that nod a lot," he said while visiting the Lions' practice facility in Allen Park Tuesday as one of the team's 30 pre-draft invitees.
"You're always slotted second to the big school guys. It doesn't matter your talent level. You're always going to be slotted under those guys because of what school they're at. I don't get it. Is that logo going to save you from going against a guy that's better than you?"
NFL scouts have had a watchful eye on Norman at Coastal Carolina because of his size (6-0, 197) and physical prowess, but his draft stock really started to increase after his performance at the East-West Shrine Game in January.
Norman was one of the biggest stars during the practice sessions leading up to the all-star game, when he had six interceptions in the three practices before the game.
"It was a good week," Norman said. "Most people didn't know who Josh Norman was and that was my coming out, so to speak."
Norman has a number of team visits lined up before his March 27 Pro Day. NFL teams will be interested to see how Norman runs at his Pro Day.
He ran two 40-yard dash's at the NFL Scouting Combine last month, one in the 4.5 range and the other in the 4.7's. His official time is listed at 4.66.
"I wasn't expecting that just as well as probably other people weren't," Norman said of his combine runs. "But it was something that happened and you have to live with it and Pro Day is coming right around the corner and I'm definitely going to show that's not the case."
Norman has the size NFL teams covet in a cornerback and also has experience playing safety. He was an All-State safety in high school in South Carolina and was recruited by Georgia to play safety. He was switched to corner early on at Coastal Carolina.
"I'm a hybrid," he said. "I have a safety's mind frame and a safety's mentality, but yet I'm playing cornerback.
"I can go and get the ball at the highest point. If it's a run play or someone's coming through the hole, I'm coming and filling it, I'm coming downhill hard and heavy and I'm bring this whole 200-some-odd pounds with me."
During his four-year career at Coastal Carolina, Norman totaled 196 tackles, including seven for a loss with 13 interceptions and 35 passes defensed.
He was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, awarded annually to the most outstanding defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision
Norman is rated as the 11th best corner in the draft by ESPN and projected as a mid-round selection.
ESPN's draft analysts gave him exceptional grades for his ball skills and durability.