Kevin King: The X-Factor of the 2020 Packers

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Most fans can agree the Packers’ 2021 free agency class boasts several game-changers: David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark, Corey Linsley, Jamaal Williams, and others. But the most polarizing of the entire class is cornerback Kevin King. After being selected thirty-third overall out of Washington in 2017, he compiled 117 total tackles, twenty-four pass deflections, and six interceptions in thirty-two games for the Packers. While some hold King to a high standard, many others choose to remember that the Packers passed on former Badger and now two-time Pro Bowl edge rusher T.J. Watt to trade down and select him. So the proverbial question remains: to re-sign or not to re-sign.

King was a three-star recruit initially out of high school and committed to Washington as a part of their 2013 recruiting class. He was the first true freshman to start for the Huskies in the 2013 season, where he primarily played safety until his senior season in 2016. He then had a season chock-full of highlights at cornerback, playing all fourteen games, compiling forty-four total tackles, two interceptions, and fifteen pass defenses. Despite only earning honorable mention all PAC-12 in his junior and senior seasons, he was a fan favorite in Seattle and his measurables quickly grew on scouts and analysts, becoming one of the top defensive back prospects. At the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, he ran the fastest shuttle and three-cone drills among defensive backs, as well as a 4.43 40-yard dash. He was a projected first-round pick and ended up getting selected with the first pick of the second round by Green Bay. 

The biggest concern about King coming into last season was his durability. While showing great potential in his first two seasons, he missed seventeen total games with a multitude of injuries, being labeled by many as a “bust.” In 2019, he instilled more hope in Packers fans and had one of his best seasons yet. Only missing one game, he racked up five interceptions, tying for second-most league-wide and sixty-six total tackles. However, his deep coverage is painful to watch. Whether it’s getting beat or simply misplaying the ball, it often seems we see a long ball down the sideline against King as he finished last in the league in yards per coverage.

But a coin has two sides. There are a lot of positives when it comes to King. He’s one of the more physical cornerbacks on the roster. At 6’3”, 200 lbs., he has the size to be a great redzone corner. He backs up that archetype statistically as well. According to Pro Football Focus, he was graded first among cornerbacks in the redzone, finishing with a 90.0 grade, only behind Tre’Davious White, Marcus Peters, and Patrick Peterson, who have twelve combined Pro Bowls among the three.

Even if Kevin King meets or exceeds his expectations in 2020, it’ll be difficult to keep him around. The Packers have a lot of huge impending free agents to consider going into next spring, including one of the best offensive tackles in football, David Bakhtiari, the touchdown leader in football from 2019, Aaron Jones, and the anchor of the Green Bay defensive line, Kenny Clark, who was just recently signed to a 4-year, $70 million extension. This will be a very difficult situation to maneuver for the front office and they’ll likely only be able to re-sign two of them. But, in the meantime, let’s see what Kevin King can do in his role in 2020. 

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