Run through the hottest names in the NFL Draft community at the cornerback position. You’ll hear a lot about the Florida Gators’ duo of Jalen “Teez” Tabor and Quincy Wilson. You might get another SEC corner in Marlon Humphrey or Tre’Davious White. Hell, the Ohio State Buckeyes have two hot names in Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore as well. It’s odd, however, that you seem to hear so little of the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award winner: Iowa’s Desmond King.
Perhaps the nature of the cornerback position and it’s difficulty to scout remotely has turned analysts off to King, since he’s not popping in the stat pages like he did in 2015. That’ll happen in some capacity when you go from eight interceptions to one.
But let this serve as reminder that King very well may be the best cornerback in the country.
A victim of his own reputation
Interceptions are wonderful. They, as turnovers, are one of the largest measures of the impact a player can hold in a football contest. But stats do not tell the whole story in any scenario; most importantly in the defensive backfield. The greatest measure of impact you can find regarding cornerbacks is their target numbers and success rate. Unfortunately, this information is not universally tracked and those who do such legwork smartly charge a very pretty penny for their work. Thankfully, our friends in the Draft industry have felt charitable regarding some of the key numbers for Desmond King.
.@HawkeyeFootball CB Desmond King has allowed a total of 70 rec. yards in 6 games. His 0.37 yards per coverage snap ranks 5th in the nation
— Matt Claassen (@PFF_Matt) October 9, 2016
That is VERY good. Week 7 was not quite as kind to King, as he conceded nearly the same amount of passing yards he had previously in six games (although 38 of his conceded 62 yards came on a single reception).
In Iowa's 49-35 win vs Purdue, CB Desmond King allowed season-high 62 rec. yds, but had 2 breakups, 1 INT & allowed a QB rating of just 13.3 pic.twitter.com/9YcGWhRcmd
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 16, 2016
As of just last week, Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo further expanded on King’s performance to date with an update. Ranked as the third best corner in the country based off of coverage, run support and tackling; he presents the entire package. Palazzolo mentioned that Pro Football Focus credits King with just six missed tackles in 167 total tackle attempts since 2014.
Again, stats are nice. But what does the film say?
More of the same.
Consider this an open invitation to view Iowa’s latest contest against Wisconsin and watch King’s performance. He had 12 tackles, all of which showed off balance, control and patience in space. The Badgers frequently rolled out closed formation to King’s side of the field, essentially rendering him useless in coverage. King obliged by consistently stepping up into the point of attack, squeezing laterally and finishing plays as a contain player, much like what you’d see from an EDGE defender.
Finding a home
King projects best as a zone heavy cornerback but he’s certainly capable of playing in any scheme, given his awareness and commitment to technique. In zone; King’s route recognition, ball skills and anticipation can be displayed more prominently. He does not possess a notably strong athletic profile for the position; turn and run situations may allow for more cracks in his defense. Below you’ll find the NDT Scouting Preseason Senior Outlook assessment of King from myself and Joe Marino:
He may well end up being a top 15 selection but if he doesn’t; it’s a matter of teams favoring ceiling over floor.
King possesses above average athleticism and blue chip mental skills. The NFL’s trend towards passing offenses will continue to put a premium on pass rushers and defensive backs, and he fits that mold.