Kevin King became the latest former Washington Huskies defensive back to strike gold when he was selected 33rd overall by the Green Bay Packers.
King, who started out his UW career as a Steve Sarkisian recruit, is a classic story of an immensely talented (dare we say “freak athlete who was able to develop his technical skills progressively each year under the tutelage of good coaching before bursting onto the radar screens of pro scouts everywhere.
The pairing of King with the Packers organization seems to be a good fit as they had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last season.
The manner in which Kevin King caught the attention of NFL scouts is very similar to that in which he caught the attention of UW fans everywhere. As a reserve safety going into his sophomore year, King embraced the challenge of strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha’s first annual “Husky Combine” event and became an instant star. In fact, we noted that had King run that same three-cone drill that he ran in 2014 in the NFL Draft Combine, he would have set the mark for the field. Fast forward to 2017 and, low and behold, Kevin King ran the fastest three-cone drill in the NFL Draft combine. That strong drill was part of a very impressive combine that had scouts comparing his performance to those of NFL stars such as Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis.
Beyond the physical skills, the 6’3” 195 lb King has matured as a defensive back every year of his UW tenure. Coming to UW as a modest three-star recruit known for his length and athleticism, King played as a true freshman mostly due (so we thought) to depth problems. As a sophomore, King played in every game mostly in that same safety role. As a junior, King was shifted to more of a corner position where he developed as a pass defender.
Here were his numbers:
Kevin King Profile
What Others are Saying
Kevin King will be a pro bowl corner— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 6, 2017
Former Washington Husky Kevin King made some money today with the BEST workout of ALL 300 plus prospects attending #NFLCombine— Tony Softli (@SoftliSEA) March 6, 2017
Looking at official results from DB workouts today. Kevin King -the overlooked, underrated Washington CB- killed it...— Todd McShay (@McShay13) March 6, 2017
Kevin King, a 6’3” cornerback playing for Washington, looks like an intriguing NFL prospect. I bet Seattle is already plotting to get him. pic.twitter.com/V5ZCFXYSr6— Hayden Bird (@haydenhbird) December 29, 2016
In Kevin King, the Packers are getting a tall, lanky and uber-athletic defensive back who has put the versatility of his skills on tape against top-notch competition.
But what position does he play. Looking for a safety? King played most of his sophomore year there. Need a cover guy? King covered the slot most of his junior year before growing into a shut-down outside corner his senior year.
The diversity of his experiences paired with his athleticism bode well for King’s prospects in the NFL. He has superior length to go along with his speed and leaping ability. As such, he projects as an outside corner at the next level. Some scouts worry that his length might create an exposure against quicker types of receivers. However, many NFL teams have followed the Seattle Seahawks strategy of drafting longer, press-style corners who have the requisite length to change passing angles for NFL QBs.
The big question for King will be how well he develops as a tackler. Contrasting King to a player like Seattle’s Richard Sherman reveals a significant gap in King’s overall reliability and physicality as a tackler. That same physicality might also be an issue for teams that want their corners to play tough near the line of scrimmage.
I’d also say that King’s ongoing development from a fundamentals stand-point will continue to be critical. He was a very raw player when he arrived to UW in 2013 and has only been a cornerback for the past two years. While his physical skills have allowed him to make some jaw-dropping plays, his tape still reveals many plays where King failed to recognize routes or took bad angles on balls on flight.
Look for King to see plenty of the field in 2017. He’ll no doubt be started as an outside corner, but could definitely shift into a free safety role should the need arise.