By Charlie Campbell
Summary: There are certain schools that have a reputation for producing a lot of good NFL defensive backs. Florida and LSU are known for that, but Washington doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves for being a “DB U”. If it weren’t for the Achilles injury to Sidney Jones, the Huskies would have produced three defensive backs who should go in the top-60 picks of the 2017 NFL Draft, with Jones and Kevin King being first-round caliber cornerbacks. They were a tremendous tandem over the past few seasons.
King worked his way onto the field as a sophomore with 65 tackles, three breakups and an interception. In 2015, he improved his play with quality production, totaling 39 tackles, five passes broken up and three interceptions. In 2016, the senior recorded 44 tackles with 13 passes broken up and two interceptions. He followed that up with an impressive combine performance where he ran a surprisingly fast time of 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
In pass coverage, King thrives as a bump-and-run cornerback. He is big to be a press-man corner who manipulates the route that receivers can run after his jam. King could use a little more strength for jamming pro receivers, but he has god-given height and length to handle big receivers. King has above-average athletic ability to run with receivers downfield and uses his length to help him recover. With his leaping ability and long frame, King is able to extend to break up passes and close gaps to prevent completions. King has nice ball skills to slap pass away for a big cornerback and also will make some difficult catches. However, he does have some issues with dropping potential interceptions.
King doesn’t always play up to his timed speed. He is a willing tackler, but could stand to improve his tackling technique for the NFL. While he didn’t always look like a nice fit for off-man coverage in the pro game, King’s impressive combine workout helped to illustrate that he does have some potential to develop off-man skills.
For the NFL, King would be best in a system that primarily uses him as a press-man corner. He is likely to be a late first-round or early second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and that is where many teams graded him.
Player Comparison: Brandon Browner. After going undrafted, Browner was with the Broncos for a couple of seasons before playing in Canada for four years. He broke out with the Seahawks and became a good player for them. He was part of their dominant secondary in their Super Bowl in 2013 and won the Super Bowl a year later with New England. Browner (6-4, 221) is a huge corner to match up against big receivers. King has a similar skill set. In the NFL, I see King being a cornerback similar to Browner, but King could end up being better and more consistent.
NFL Matches: Dallas, Green Bay, Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Washington, Detroit, Miami, Oakland and Houston
There are a lot of potential fits for King late in the first or in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Even before losing Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys needed cornerback help. Dallas has shown interest in King, and he could be a fit for the organization’s first-round pick. The Packers also could use more talent at corner, and they like big cornerbacks. King would make sense for Green Bay’s first-round pick.
At the top of the second round, the Browns need a third cornerback and could use one with size. King would give them an outside corner and let them move Joe Haden into the slot in the nickel. San Francisco and Chicago both need cornerback upgrades. None of the first three teams of Round 2 is likely to draft a corner during the first three picks of the 2017 NFL Draft, thus King could easily go high in the second round if he doesn’t get selected on Thursday night.
The Chargers could use a third cornerback to go with Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward. Buffalo needs a corner to replace Stephon Gilmore. The Saints could use more cornerback help for their defense, so they could consider taking King at pick No. 32 or in Round 2
In the middle of the second round, King has a lot of landing spots. Philadelphia needs multiple cornerback upgrades and a No. 1 corner. The Colts need another corner to pair with Vontae Davis, and King could be a fit for them. The Ravens could use a corner upgrade to go with Jimmy Smith. Washington needs a corner upgrade across from Josh Norman.
If King slips to the back half of the second round, there are a lot of cornerback-needy teams. The Lions need a corner upgrade across from Darius Slay. The Dolphins and Raiders need to improve their backfield as well. The Texans need cornerback help after losing A.J. Bouye to Jacksonville.
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