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
– 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
– 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
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