So You've Drafted Desmond King: A New Owner's Guide

By RossWB on April 29, 2017 at 1:22 pm
The King is here.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
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Congratulations! You've just made the wonderful decision to draft Desmond King! Like most new King owners, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new family member. We here at GIA will try our best to answer any questions you might have.

HELLO LOS ANGELES!

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT DESMOND KING?

King is one of the best defensive backs to come out of Iowa City -- which is saying something for a program that's produced secondary stars like Merton Hanks, Bob Sanders, Paul Krause. King entered the starting lineup as a true freshman in Iowa's second game of the year in 2013 -- and he never left that spot for the next four seasons. He was a constant presence and also an incredibly effective part of Iowa's defense. King excelled against the pass and the run; in 2015 he tied the Iowa single-season record for interceptions (eight) and won the Jim Thorpe Award (for the nation's best defensive back) and he's been a willing and (very) able force in run defense since he saw the field, solidly and reliably wrapping up opposing running backs at the line of scrimmage. 

WHAT DID HE DO THAT'S SO GREAT?

Not only was King an incredibly reliable presence in Iowa's defense -- he played in all 53 games of his Iowa career, starting the last 52 -- but he was very, very good part of that defense. A few stats from Pro Football Focus really highlight the range of his defensive abilities: 

  • NFL passer rating allowed steadily dropped: 59.6 (2014), 48.6 (2015), 42.3 (20160
  • Allowed just 24 receptions for 271 yards and one touchdown in 2016
  • Missed just 11 of 174 solo tackles over last four seasons

His stats dipped somewhat this year -- he went from eight interceptions in 2015 to three in 2016, for instance -- but a big part of that was a result of the reputation he (deservedly) earned during his fearsome 2015 season. Few opposing quarterbacks opted to challenge King's side of the field, which left him with less to do (and fewer opportunities to grab an interception).

King was an absolutely perfect corner in Iowa's zone-based defensive scheme. He's ruthless when the play is front of him, able to smother a receiver or drop down and stop a running back cold. His ball skills weren't too shabby either -- 33 pass break-ups and 14 interceptions over his Iowa career. Outside of defense, he can also add value as a kick returner; he served as Iowa's primary return man for kickoffs and punts, averaging almost 12 yards per punt return and 26 yards per kick return over his career. He was never able to break a return all the way for a touchdown (to our chagrin), but he threatened to do so repeatedly and consistently helped set Iowa up in good field position. We had the privilege of watching Desmond King for the last 

STATS

YEAR GAMES SOLO ASSIST TOTAL SACKS/YDS TFL/YDS FF FR PASS BRK INT/YDS
2013 13 44 25 69 0 3.0/7 0 2 8 0
2014 13 42 22 64 0 2.0/5 0 0 5 3/72
2015 14 46 26 72 0 1.0/5 0 0 13 8/118
2016 13 42 16 58 0 3.5/8 1 1 7 3/41
TOTAL 53 174 89 263 0 9.5/25 1 3 33 14/231

As noted, King was also a standout special teams performer in the return game. 

YEAR PUNT RET PR YDS PR AVG PR TD KICK RET KR YDS KR AVG KR TD
2015 17 241 14.2 0 29 708 24.4 0
2016 26 264 10.2 0 27 750 27.8 0
TOTAL 43 505 11.7 0 56 1458 26.0 0

HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES?

Well, that's a big reason why we're talking about him today and not on Thursday. His physical attributes are good... but they're not great. He's officially 5'10" (Iowa listed him at 5'11"), which is not tiny... but it's not exactly tall, either. His combine stats were again good... but not necessarily great. He ran a 4.51 40 time at Iowa's Pro day, which is good... but if he'd ran in the 4.4 range, he likely would have snapped up on Thursday night. 

PRO DAY RESULTS: 

HIGHLIGHTS: 

WHAT ABOUT THE BAD?

Well, as we discussed in the Physical Attributes section, he doesn't quite have ideal height or speed, though he's not bad in either department. He has had problems against the speediest wide receivers and guys who can make quick moves at the line of scrimmage (he had some struggles at the Senior Bowl against receivers like this); his long-range speed, footwork, and recovery ability have flaws. There are also some questions about positional fit; some NFL scouts have speculated that he could be a safety in the NFL. King was an ideal fit at corner in Iowa's defense, which relies heavily on zone coverage, but his skills likely won't translate as well to some defenses. He's probably not a great pick as an edge corner if your team is looking to run more man coverage. 

WAS THIS A GOOD PICK? 

Absolutely, albeit with the caveats expressed above. If you have the right scheme for his skills, I think you're going to be very, very happy with this pick. King has been a constant presence for Iowa fans for the last four years and we're going to dearly miss watching him. And, honestly, we did not expect King to fall remotely this far in the draft, either, but that might only enhance his value for the Chargers. King was an overlooked recruit coming out of high school (Iowa was his only Power 5 offer) and that seemed to fuel his strong play in college; being passed over by so many NFL teams here may give him a whole new reservoir of motivation to draw upon in the NFL. Either way, best of luck as a professional, Mr. King. 

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