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Chargers 90-in-90: OT Storm Norton

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The former Toledo Rocket was graded as the best offensive lineman in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.

NFL: AUG 19 Preseason - Jets at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Next up in our 90-in-90 series is the first of two former XFL stars signed by the Chargers after the premature collapse of what should have been a solid complement to the NFL.

Norton starred as a prep for Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio. He was a First-Team All-State selection and the District’s Lineman of the Year. Like most kids dream of, Norton got the opportunity to play for his hometown Toledo Rockets after graduating.

Following a redshirt season in 2012, Norton played sparingly in a reserve role in seven games. As a sophomore, he got the first three starts of his career at left tackle while playing in 13 contests total.

Norton started the final 26 games of his career as a junior and senior. In both seasons, he was named a First-Team All-MAC selection and earned a spot on the All-Bowl Team in 2015.

Even after a great career for the Rockets, Norton went undrafted in 2017. He initially signed with the Lions as an undrafted free agent but only lasted half the season there. He spent a short stint with the Cardinals before settling in with the Vikings in December.

Norton spent a back-and-forth two seasons with the Vikings, going up and down from the practice squad to the active roster. He was waived for the final time during the final cuts prior to the 2019 regular season.

During the second phase of the XFL draft, the one in which teams drafted their offensive linemen, Norton was the first player picked to the Los Angeles Wildcats. After the coronavirus pandemic shut things down for good, Norton was signed by the Chargers to a two-year deal on April 14.

Basic Info

Height: 6’8
Weight: 306
College: Toledo
Experience: 3
Years with team: 0

Contract Status

Storm Norton signed a 2 year, $1,525,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including an average annual salary of $762,500. In 2020, Norton will earn a base salary of $675,000, while carrying a cap hit of $675,000.” - Spotrac.com

The Good

Norton found his stride as a professional football player as the left tackle for the Wildcats explosive offense. It featured a propensity for the deep ball and a plethora runs outside the tackles. It’s that latter aspect that helped Norton earn a top grade among linemen in the XFL. On the play below, Norton is pulled out into space to be the lead blocker for the wide receiver screen. He takes advantage of a defender already engaged on a wideout and rolls him for another eight yard before smacking another player out of bounds.

This type of athleticism allowed Sam Tevi to find success as a run blocker the last two seasons and it’s easy to see why he was picked up following the collapse of the XFL.

The Bad

He went undrafted and saw time with three different teams in as many years for a reason. He drastically needed to gain more functional strength to adapt to the pros and sure-up his pass protection fundamentals. His name has been in the running for the left tackle spot since he was signed but he’s likely third in line behind Trey Pipkins and Sam Tevi.

Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2020?

You’d think signing Norton to a two-year contract would mean the Chargers are committing to his services a little more than a normal depth piece. However, that may not be the case. The Chargers will likely carry between nine or 10 offensive linemen on the final roster and Norton’s spot may be the 10th or bust. Aside from the starting five, there will be several kept for depth pieces along the interior and at tackle. The Chargers always keep players who can man multiple positions meaning Scott Quessenberry and Forrest Lamp will be there along with whoever the back up left and right tackles are. Norton will be battling former UDFA Trent Scott for the final spot, if I had to guess.