Here, we’ll take a look at Washington corner Kevin King. He has some flaws, but there’s plenty to like about his game and upside.
Originally from the Bay Area in California, King was listed as a three-star safety recruit by Rivals in 2013. He appeared in six games as a true freshman before he suffered an injury. He took on a more substantial role in 2014, making 64 tackles, intercepting one pass and defending three others.
In his final two years with the Huskies, King had eight tackles for loss, 18 defended passes, and five interceptions.
Athletically, King is a gift from the football gods for the cornerback position. He measured in at 6’3” and 200 pounds with long, 32” arms at the combine. King clocked an official 4.43 in the 40-yard dash had a 39.5” vertical and scorched the three-cone drill with a time of 6.56, the best of any defensive back who participated in that drill this year. His short-shuttle time of 3.89 was tremendous, and the second-fastest among all defensive backs in 2017. Essentially, King is a lengthy, super quick-twitch cornerback with intense leaping ability.
King has experience playing many coverages. Though his height and arm length would indicate he’d flourish in press man, he’s the most successful when he’s playing zone and doesn’t need to jam the receiver at the line. King’s length can create some re-routing in press, yet he tends to slightly over-commit to the physically dominating the wideout, which can lead to him losing track of his man down the field.
On this play, you’ll notice King hesitate to jam his receiver then get his arms swatted down as the Arizona State pass-catcher starts his stem to the inside.
Far from horrible coverage, and it took a perfect throw, route, and catch for this pass to be completed. Also, King gave a respectable effort to break it up, yet the half step he lost at the line of scrimmage was the difference.
Compare that play to this one, when King starts close to the wideout but doesn’t get his arms out to press at the line. Instead, he sinks into zone coverage while subtly keeping an arm on the receiver. As he peaks into the backfield to check the quarterback, the Arizona State wideout breaks to the outside on a corner route.
Because King’s length allowed him to maintain contact with the receiver, he was able to turn and hit the afterburners to close the separation. To finish, King flashes his awareness, athleticism, and super-long arms to get the pass breakup.
Impressive. Some NFL cornerbacks are that savvy in zone, however the majority of them don’t have the physical gifts and 32” arms to create the incompletion on this type of play.
Sometimes, King allowed completions on short comeback routes, but most of those appeared to be the byproduct playing Cover 3 and having deep-third responsibility.
On short passes, King displays quick play-recognition skills.
King started his zone drop from the weak side then showed off his burst and flexibility when dipping underneath the would-be blocking and making a form leg tackle to immediately drop the pass-catcher.
Here’s another display of his desirable play-recognition and quick-twitch athleticism combo.
Because of his sound awareness, length, and athleticism, King has solid ball skills. He’s not a interception machine but will get his hands a fair amount of passes.
Here’s a nice play on a dig route against Colorado. King may have been too “grabby,” but note how he used his long arms to reach around the receiver to make the play.
Now for the highlight-reel interception.
This may have been the catch of the year in college football. Even if it wasn’t, it certainly was the most ridiculously awesome interception I’ve seen from any member of the 2017 draft class.
Once again, King didn’t engage in any bump-and-run at the start of this play — though he baited it right before the snap.
Because of that, he was able to size up the receiver, check into the backfield then morph into a wideout to utilize his speed and large catch radius to come down with a spectacular pick.
I didn’t notice any instances in which King wasn’t, at the very least, attempting to make a play on the football as it approached its target, and I didn’t see him drop any interceptions. He has somewhat big 9 1/2” hands.
Playing the run is glaring weakness in King’s game, and it comes mostly by way of poor form, and I assume most of that is due to his lanky frame and springy athletic talents.
On nearly all of his run-support tackle attempts, King dives at the legs of the ball-carrier, seemingly too anxious to take another step, get square, and use more of his body to wrap up. Like most NFL rookies, he could probably benefit from adding some strength.
Against USC, King had a disastrous outing stopping the run.
In this first example, he was asked to blitz from the corner and, unsurprisingly, was in the backfield in a flash. Although King probably had to dive on this occasion, he wasn’t able to bring him to the turf.
With more upper body strength, King may have been able to make this tackle for loss.
On this play, King waits to see a running lane open on the outside, fills it, but dives at the feet of the USC running back and misses the tackle.
If he stayed upright or even made a tackle attempt at the midsection of the runner, this likely wouldn’t have been a whiff on the edge.
Against Alabama in the College Football Playoff, King filled as the contain defender with plenty of speed, yet dove wildly at the feet of monstrosity of a running back Bo Scarbrough.
Not all of King’s run-fill attempts are bad though.
This next play against USC is almost identical to his other misses on the edge, but King gets a little help from a teammate with the tackle. If nothing else, it shows King’s flexibility and explosion.
This last run play demonstrates King’s burst when he sees the running lane he needs to fill and impressive closing speed.
Again, he attacks super low. But this time, he makes the tackle.
Pretty good stuff there.
Overall though, King’s run defense must improve at the NFL level, especially with him having to deal with lead-blockers on outside runs as a boundary cornerback.
King is a special size-length-speed-athleticism cornerback. Despite having a body that suggests he’d be tremendous in press man, that area of his game isn’t refined, and he excels in zone, especially Cover 3, like many of the Seahawks corners.
He needs work with his tackling technique, yet has all the tools — and willingness — to be an impact player against the run.
For the Bills, he’s precisely the type of cornerback McDermott would likely love to have in his Cover 3-based defense. King’s presence could allow Ronald Darby to square off against opposing team’s smaller wide receivers. Most of the NFL (correctly) loves super athletes, and King definitely is one of those. To me, his “true” value is early Round 2.