Ever since he took the league by storm a few years ago, it feels like every NFL team is looking for the next Richard Sherman. The wide receiver convert slipped by NFL teams in the 2011 draft all the way to the fifth round and he has consistently been one of the best corners in the league since. Ever since his rise, NFL teams are desperately looking for a fluid cornerback with immense height, arm length and ball skills to hopefully match the dynamic Sherman brought to Seattle and every year it feels like the draft community picks a tall cornerback prospect to be the next Richard Sherman.
Kevin King's combine turned a lot of heads towards the senior prospect out of Washington. King was the second half of the Huskies' incredible duo of cornerbacks (the other being Sidney Jones, of course) and though King had been the relatively unheralded one up to that point, the numbers he posted at the combine made him an incredibly intriguing prospect. Who doesn't want a 6'3" cornerback with long arms, 4.45 speed and elite level agility drills? King's physical talents are immense and then he does things on tape that exemplify why having big bodied cornerbacks is so exciting.
First, you see the value of length at the line of scrimmage. King is able to slow the receiver's path to the pall and put himself in a position of dictating the play due to his ability to win early on this snap. Then, his length comes in at the catch point to make a spectacular and athletic interception. This is what the NFL wants from players like King. Big cornerbacks have the physical tools to dictate plays to the wide receiver rather than reacting to what the offense is doing. That is an under discussed and massively important defensive dynamic.
Here is another moment where King is able to use his size beautifully and reacts perfectly to the play to come up with a pass defended on what would be a completion against many other cornerbacks. Big cornerbacks make tight NFL windows even tighter.
King is an exciting prospect because it is so obvious how good he can be if and when he puts it all together. But that is a big "if".
As high as King's peaks are as a cornerback, he also comes back down to earth rather often and can have some incredibly frustrating plays.
At the bottom of the screen, King tries to go for a kill shot at the line of scrimmage. His aggression is a trait that is exciting, but the slap dash nature in which he goes about placing his hands and the lack of strength he exhibits in making contact leads to an easy release from the receiver and a subsequent completion. Aggression is always a good trait when harnessed properly, but when it turns into sloppiness, it will get cornerbacks in trouble. Also, despite his size, King has a noticeable lack of functional strength on the field when he tries to get physical with players.
This sloppy aggression also can turn into penalties, which it does here. Even more worrying than a penalty, however, is the fact that he did not even win the rep. He tried to body the receiver and in turn got out muscled through the entire play. That is a frustrating rep for such a big, physically gifted cornerback.
Here, not only is King losing at the line, but he is also slow to react to the ball in the air and generally looks slow and sloppy on this play, giving up a reception despite having good positioning.
Reaction time is a big issue for King and possibly the root to a lot of the faults in his game. He comes off as being less athletic than he is because he seems to just process information on the field slower than it's happening and when he is playing a million miles an hour, he often loses technique.
On the first half of the route, King has good positioning but eventually loses the rep because he did not react in time to the comeback. This is a consistent issue in his game and one that will lead to giving up a lot of completions. This is exasperated by the fact that teams would target him more due to the other option was targeting Sidney Jones (who is really good).
Lastly, King is a frustratingly inconsistent tackler. Sometimes he brings his weight behind his pads to plant a runner, but often he comes at tackling like he's trying to bite a player's ankles or dance with them.
Twice King had a shot to make a play on this ball carrier, hesitated on his first opportunity and then gave a horrible attempt to follow up. It was the difference between a four yard gain and a first down and then some.
NFL Comparison: While I don't think he is as good as a prospect, King's situation is similar to Eric Rowe's coming out of Utah. Both moved around their defenses a lot during their careers (King played every position in the secondary during his time at Washington) and both were super athletic, prototypically sized prospects. While Rowe was a more physical player overall, both had issues processing information in college and generally were very raw prospects despite being seniors.
Despite his flaws, King is still a likable prospect. With a simplified role in the NFL, he could grow into a solid player given his size and athletic ability. With an Eagles defense that asks cornerbacks to read and react more, it will be harder for King to be an immediate impact player, but betting on size and speed at the right price is never a bad investment. For the NFL in general, King should go somewhere in the back half of the Top 50 of the draft. Even in a deep class with his flaws, his physical tools will just be too hard to pass up on for a lot of NFL teams.