2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Iowa CB Desmond King

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Desmond King/CB Iowa – 5’10 201

The Good

– Physical player and mentality, plays with an edge and embraces the run
– Good force defender to closed side against a TE, takes on blocks and keeps ball inside
– Reliable tackler who finishes each one with violence
– Shows good ball skills and hands, locates the football well, will take chances in coverage, and able to play the pocket in man coverage
– Better laterally than he is with his long speed, good change of direction ability and able to match in-breaking routes underneath
– Fluid hips in zone and man turn, quick feet
– Appears to be a highly conditioned player who rarely came off the field and was a big contributor on special teams
– Saw work as a kick and punt returner and served on field goal block team
– Experience in man, zone, playing in press, bail, and off
– Top notch level of starting experience

The Bad

– Size is only average, ditto with length (31 1/8 arms)
– Needs to show more physicality in press man
– Has to understand leverage better and do better job of discouraging/rerouting any release to his shade (not allowing clean inside release with inside leverage)
– Long speed is not great and have brought up questions of if he should move to safety
– Threat in open field as a punt returner but struggles to field the ball cleanly, being able to get square and under the ball with his first step going forward
– Bit of a down senior season and didn’t have a great Senior Bowl week


– 52 career starts
– Career: 263 tackles, 14 INTs, 9.5 TFL, 3 pick sixes
– 45 career punt returns (11.2 average) 26 yard career kick return average
– 2016: 8 INTs (only three in 2015)
– First-Team AP All American in 2015
– 29 career high school interceptions, set school record with over 4700 yards rushing
– Ran track all four years in high school

Tape Breakdown

A year ago, Desmond King was considered one of the top cornerbacks, seemingly a first round pick, and a potential Pittsburgh Steeler. This year, those first two thoughts aren’t true but he’s still in the cards for the Steelers. His size isn’t going to attractive but his physicality would fit in right at home.

He’s aggressive in run support as a force defender, taking on tight ends, and in coverage, he closes and finishes with authority. Like this WWE-style takedown against Wisconsin which knocked the receiver out of the game.

King has the reputation as one of the best run stopping corners in the draft and it’s well-deserved.

His eight interceptions his junior year indicate good hands and he has the ball skills, the ability to break up passes, are just as strong. He’s natural in the open field, leaning on his running back background in high school, which makes him a threat after an interception or as a punt returner. I cut the GIF off but he housed this one against Purdue in 2016.

Man coverage probably isn’t going to be his strong suit. He didn’t run at the Combine, maybe to hide how average he’ll be, and with his aggressive nature, can get out of phase downfield in coverage. Like here, misjudging where the route was going to break and giving up this touchdown in the corner of the end zone.

I didn’t think he had a good week at the Senior Bowl. Hands weren’t active enough in press and he struggled to maintain his leverage. Got overshadowed by several others down there, including one of my now-draft crushes, Damontae Kazee.

King has a nice looking resume as a kick/punt returner, again, leaning on his RB background, and he is a legitimate threat in the open field. But he seems to struggle catching the ball cleanly and getting under the football, muffing this punt against Nebraska and in general having a really tough day of fielding them cleanly. Maybe it was the wind, it was an overcast day with a breeze, but it gives me pause and at least, something that needs work.

Given the questions about his long speed, some have floated the idea of moving him to safety. It makes sense. He has good ball skills, wants to make plays, and his run fits will be sound. I can’t think of a good reason against it other than the time it’ll naturally take for him to learn the position. He won’t thrive in a man-heavy scheme, and the Steelers at least want to run more man, even if they’re not going to be man-heavy.

But if there’s a desire to keep around the old-school, heavy zone, philosophy, King is a good selection. He won’t cost that first round price tag many thought he would last year, either.

Projection: Mid-Late Day Two (Late Second-Mid Third)

Games Watched: at Wisconsin (2015), at Purdue, at Penn State, vs Nebraska, Senior Bowl

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey HendricksonJeremy SprinkleJoe Williams
D’Onta ForemanCarlos WatkinsDamontae KazeWayne GallmanWillie Quinn
Xavier WoodsElijah HoodMalik McDowell

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • falconsaftey43

    Still a guy I really like. Think he’d fit really well in the slot with his physicality. Hard to tell where he’ll go in such a deep class, but I’d have no problem getting him in the 3rd.

  • Andrew

    If we grab a pass rusher in the first, I would be ok with him in the second. If he doesn’t pan out as a corner, he could easily shift to safety.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks Alex. If the Steelers take an edge guy in the first round, I think they would definitely be looking at the CB position in the late second round, which means that I think King would probably be available then. When you look at the ones available at that spot, I think he or Cam Sutton would be good choices, unless one of the higher-rated guys fall. Both guys seem to have high football IQ’s with lots of experience against high-level competition. Hoping for a profile for Fabian Moreau from UCLA, a much more athletic CB.

  • Boots

    I like the idea of him at safety!

  • Steelers12

    man this draft at deep at almost every position except olineman and ILBs

  • 20Stoney

    Love the physicality, but a corner who doesn’t want to run the 40 is concerning to me.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    IMO, this guy is a perfect example of how the process can hurt a players draftability.
    This time last year he was the top CB on the board, this year he will likely have to move to S.
    No wonder these guys come out early!!

  • Sean Ralphio

    Would honestly be a perfect fit with us, being how much zone we tend to play. Doesn’t have elite speed but he makes up for it with physicality and great ball skills. Could see him starting off as a rotational corner with us and eventually transitioning to Mitchell’s spot at safety

  • Petherson Silveira

    Can He play in the slot? Would he fits there?

  • VaDave

    A Mitchell replacement?

  • Burgh Ball

    I’d like to see a profile on Moreau also – I thought he was one of the best athletes/players at the Shrine game.. but haven’t seen much tape on him

  • Alex Kozora

    Little different mold than traditional, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I think we can play inside.

  • Andrew

    Eventually. I want Obi in the first ideally. He can shut down TE’s and replace Mitchell early on.

  • Matt Manzo

    He’d be a great replacement for Golden. I’d feel better about getting him in the 3rd, though.

  • Darth Blount 47

    And QB…

  • Darth Blount 47

    Moreau is an interesting guy. Has some definite positives and negatives. But would certainly fit the more man style scheme than a zone one. HOWEVER, UNFORTUNATELY Moreau tore his pectoral muscle at his Pro-Day trying to better his Bench Press numbers. Will have surgery, and like another Bruin, is out likely 4-6 months.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I liked some of what I had seen from studying Moreau too. But he just tore his pec. Likely to have surgery. 🙁 Could be out 4-6 months.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Sidney Jones and now Fabian Moreau. Two top 10 CB’s have gone down with significant injuries. Unfortunate scenarios like that, will undoubtedly push Des King back up draft boards.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Yeesh!!. The last thing I read was he had hurt something and Jim Mora, the head coach at UCLA, said it didn’t appear serious. On the upside, maybe he could be gotten a few rounds lower than expected.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Exactly, just like Sid Jones, he may be able to be had in say the 4th or 5th rounds now. Likely wouldn’t drop THAT far, but he could, since it would be hard to tell when he will truly be back from an injury like that. I really hate it for both of them.

  • Steelers12


  • VaDave

    Love the tackle on the first gif. That said, it looks like from the camera angle he gave the WR an extra 5. With him square, he should have just driven he back towards the LOS. Other than that, a third rounder pick for sure. The block numbers sure look good on those black and gold unis…

  • Alex Kozora

    An extra five? If he does that and just drives the WR backwards, the ref is still going to give forward progress. Spot of the ball isn’t going to change.

  • VaDave

    Agreed, forward progress is marked at the point where forward progress stopped, which in this example, if a proper form tackle was made, would have been five yards back up field, from where the receiver landed.

  • Alex Kozora

    I’m looking at the play and I dunno man, I don’t see it. Receiver never moves forward after the catch.

  • Ike Evans

    I agee alex….hes not a man guy…i dont think hes an outside guy even in zone coverage but he can fill in, in a pinch. I think hed be a high level slot or free safety

  • LucasY59

    if he pushes one of those two down to the 3rd rd pick (or even better the comp) I would gladly take them instead of him, but I am also having a hard time deciding if they are in a position to take a injured player and wait awhile for them to be able to play (and the talent in this draft makes it even harder since the early picks will have good players that can contribute right away as well)

  • VaDave

    The receiver’s is straddling the ( 40?) yard line when contact is made. He ends up with the ball on the next 5 yard marker. It’s pretty clear, well to me anyway.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Wow, poor kid. Not a smart move for a db to try and be a bench king.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Honestly, I wouldn’t. I actually like Des King for us. I haven’t been high on Jones all pre-draft. Not my taste for how highly touted he has been. I thought he had a poor Combine. I like Moreau, but a torn pec is not good. I want guys who can contribute on Day 1. Say what you want about King’s limitations… but I feel like he is NFL ready based on a vast amount of playing time/experience.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I like Desmond King for us. He didn’t run at the Combine, which was disappointing. But he’s supposed to do a full workout at the Iowa Pro-Day. As far as projecting a player to the Steelers specifically, King is a VERY good fit for us.

    First, he looks SUPERB in Black and Yellow. 🙂

    He’s known as the Iron Man of the Iowa Secondary. Setting Iowa’s career starts record with 51 and played in a school-record 53 games. He played in more than 94 % of Iowa’s defensive snaps over his four years and took 46 % of the special teams snaps in 2016. That is some really great availability.
    He is known as a very good tackler. One of the most efficient in the country at his position. And he claims to have really good positional versatility. He’s quoted as saying… “I feel like playing Nickel, it gives you both sides of playing the whole defense.. You play the run, have run fits, and also go out and cover and play zone coverages as well.”

    Obviously having such experience, versatility, tackling, and being an aggressive player, would fit in on our team like a glove. He has the pedigree, that is for sure. In high school in Michigan, he set a Michigan high school record with 29 Int’s. Then he won the Jim Thorpe Award in college. Was a 2-time All-American. And a Consensus All-American to boot.
    Oh, AND he returns both kicks and punts?!?!?!

    I know people have been a little down on King. And for his sake, maybe he should indeed have come out last year. But I’m a fan of his. And I think he’d make a fantastic pick by us. I’d be very happy to take him in the 3rd round. And honestly, I’d probably take the risk and choose him at 62. Then I’d still double-dip the position a bit later as well. This guy is a football player. I hope he flies under the radar all the way to Pittsburgh.

  • Petherson Silveira

    I thought about this because he excel at run support.

  • SteelersHawkeyes

    If King drops based on last season’s performance, that’s stupid. He was just as good as his junior year, he just wasn’t thrown at nearly as often – that happens when a guy wins the Thorpe Award the year before.

    He was rarely beat in his entire career, and when he was a lot of it had to do with shoddy safety play – something that has plagued Iowa in recent years.

    I’ve seen every game he’s ever played – the guy is can’t miss. The concerns about his speed are overblown and he is a solid a tackler as you’ll find at CB. Also smart and a good character guy. I would not be surprised if he went in the first still.

  • popsiclesticks

    I’m a huge fan of this guy and have been for awhile. David Amerson had the same concerns, and ever since he got to Oakland he’s been a top notch corner.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    He had an abdominal strain at the combine. Ran a 4.52 at his pro day.