It’s unusual to see a virtual 1st round lock and Jim Thorpe Award winner forego the NFL Draft and return to school. That’s exactly what Desmond King chose to do. King elected to return to Iowa for his senior campaign after a season in which he tied a program record with 8 interceptions and virtually looked like a consensus 1st round pick.
Looking back on this past year, it may not have been a wise decision on King’s part based on his current draft projections landing in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. However, you have to admire someone with that type of selflessness and patience. By staying in school, King also earned the opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl.
Current chatter regards King as a CB/S tweneer despite playing outside corner throughout his entire college career. Some draft experts don’t think he has the necessary speed to play corner in the NFL, whereas others don’t like his lack of range to lineup at the safety position. Regardless, King is a good football player who brings exciting traits to the table in a deep secondary draft class.
Name: Desmond King
Draft Grade: 3rd Round
Positives: Performs better in close quarters and projects best as a nickel corner. Displays good foot speed on backdrop, change of direction and short area quickness. Better zone corner who closes in quickly after the catch and displays a lot of swiftness. At his best when he gives a cushion and is able to keep his man in front of him. Impressive ball skills. Operates well in a crowd and can go up and get the ball through traffic. Can weave his way through traffic after the catch – runs as well as any corner with the ball in his hands. Decent recover ability and gets back on occasion to defend the pass. Scrappy competitor who isn’t afraid to play physical and get into it with opposing receivers. Willing tackler and one of the better tackling corners in the class. Offers great ability as a kick returner. Thick thighs and compact lower build. Durable player who appeared in every single game during his four year career. Productive college career (14 INTs, 33 PDs). Age friendly prospect who just turned 22 at the end of December.
Negatives: Prone to giving up the long pass down the sideline as he’ll usually get beat at the point of attack on vertical routes. Doesn’t adjust well against double moves. Not always fluid in transition and will have his back to the ball on routes angled towards the sideline. Keeps his eyes on the QB too much and is too eager to make the big play – needs to play to his assignment more and display patience. Relies on the safety too much. Lacks the long speed to be an outside corner. Lacks the range to be a safety. Allows too much separation on inside routes and gets caught too far off the ball on quick passes. Will reset feet multiple times when in space against a downhill run. Short arms and lack of length. Overall size is a knock on him.
Outlook: King enjoyed an illustrious college campaign where he racked up the production and accolades. He lacks a clear-cut role in the NFL and doesn’t have ideal size which may shy teams away. However, he brings some likeable traits to the table, most notably his ball skills and scrappiness which will be sure to attract teams in itself. He’s a player teams can work with for sure. I grade King as a 3rd round guy, but he’ll likely land at some point in the 2nd round.