NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
This has got to be the craziest season I can remember watching the Patriots. Injuries have come at an incredible rate this year and now it has almost become laughable. It is hard to gauge what this team will really need when the season comes to an end (hopefully with the Patriots hoisting the Lombardi Trophy again.) One position that has stayed healthy throughout the season has been corner, and thankfully so. The team is paper thin at the position when everyone is healthy and the group as a whole has more questions than answers. Today, I take a path down the dark side and write a review on Iowa Hawkeyes standout Corner, Desmond King.
As I have stated many times before, I am an Iowa State graduate and a hardcore fan of the Cyclones. This is not an easy task when it comes to football because, well lets face, they just aren’t very good and never really have been. Being a Cyclone fan does mean we hate everything Hawkeyes as well. So, for me to sit down and watch six Hawkeyes games, including re-watching the Cyclones meltdown again, it has to be for a good reason. King is that reason. I can look past the jersey and give a fair and honest assessment of what I saw from his tape.
Name: Desmond King
School: University of Iowa (Jr.)
Weight: 200 Lbs.
King has good size for the position and is said to have long arms which allows him to play even bigger. He exclusively lines up on the right side of the field and is asked to defend the other teams best wide receiver most of the time. King can play press, off-man, and zone coverage and looks comfortable doing so. He has good enough speed, but seems to have a burst when closing on his man. He has fluid hips and change of direction. King plays with confidence and aggressiveness. He has versatility, he can play in the slot or outside and he can return punts and kicks. King shows toughness to fight through blocks and make a tackle. He has been a starter since he was a freshman and his game has improved every year. King shows a great knack for locating the ball and making the play on it. One thing I really like is that he can turn his head, locate the ball, and still stay with the receiver. He does not seem to panic when the ball is in the air and uses his hands well to disrupt the receiver but to no interfere with them. He has great hands and is a threat to create a turnover every time the ball is thrown in his direction.
King primarily plays with his hips open at the snap which has led to some bad habits in his footwork. He can get turned around and off balance when a savvy receiver runs a good route or a combination route. He is ultra aggressive in every aspect of his game which leads to biting on fakes and he can be a bit over zealous even after the whistle. King must work on his hand fighting when playing press. Too often he lunges at the receiver and misses, giving his opponent a free release. His run support and tackling are inconsistent, but it did improve as the season went on and was very good by the end of the season. If he continues to show up like he did in the second half of the season, then there will be no issue, but I want to know why he looked uninterested in earlier games. King has good speed, but he may struggle to have the range needed to stick with the faster receivers in the NFL.
I feel dirty typing these words, but I really like King. One thing that stuck out to me is that he does not lose speed or his awareness of where the guy he is defending is when he looks back for the ball. So many times we see corners who are really fast when running, but they get out of control and lose track of what they are doing when they have to look back for the ball. A lot of times, it looks like King is the guy running the route and he has excellent ball skills. He wins primarily on his athleticism and his awareness right now and he has to clean up his footwork, but the tools are there for him to be very successful in the NFL. Like I said in his negatives, his run support in the later games this year was night and day to his earlier games. Hopefully it was a confidence thing and not an effort thing, because I really like his aggressive mentality in run support and tackling in those later games. I think his unpolished technique could keep him out of the first round, but I don’t think he makes it to the end of the second, so if this is the guy the Patriots want to target, they may have to move up to get him.