By: Cody Molla (Twitter:@Cmolla1)
Anyone who watched the NFC Championship last year can remember the poor play of Packers cornerback Kevin King. After that performance it was largely assumed by many King had played his final game for the Packers. However, late in March, the Packers and King reached a one year deal. The deal costs the Packers just under two million against the cap but is worth up to six million dollars in incentives and bonuses for King.
The Packers may not have had much of a choice in resigning King when we look into their salary cap situation. They were relatively priced out of grabbing any corners in free agency and a resigning of King was low risk with plans to address the position in the draft. The Packers did take cornerback Eric Stokes with their first round pick.
What can we expect from Kevin King in 2021? He can’t be worse than the last time we saw him on the field right? Right! King is better than that last performance and moving forward he will have a role with the Packers defense as we head into OTAs. The Packers front office has prioritized keeping homegrown talent and believing in these guys to get to the super bowl. King is truly on a prove-it contract this year as he advertises for the future of his career in the NFL.
With the belief of the front office, King has shown when healthy he is a good number two corner. The Packers have a true superstar corner in Jaire Alexander. Alexander is one of if not the best corner in the league.
In 2020, Kings numbers dropped all across the board, games played, pass deflections, and interceptions. He started 11 games for a top ten pass defense last year. Even though the numbers may not pop he was successful within the Packers scheme. In 2019 he played in 15 games and was tied for third in interceptions with five and had 15 pass deflections. King has showed when healthy he can be productive. This will be the first key to having success in 2021.
As a result of his injuries his tackling has suffered, his ball skills suffered and his athleticism suffered. Getting healthy will improve all of these. Not only does health physically show it will help mentally. When you know your body is healthy you play with much more confidence. The ability to play confidently can lead to aggressive play-making. Some of which King will need moving forward. If King can play confident and aggressive his playmaking will appear much more effective in tackling, challenging contested passes, and allow him to be a better athlete. This will all hopefully allow him to return to his average to above average form we saw in his best career season in 2019.
Kevin King will return with familiarity in the defense and perhaps a new game plan and role for him will help him succeed. We know Jaire Alexander will lockdown his side on defense. This leaves King with the opposing teams secondary receivers. King will provide stability at the position for the Packers and comfortability within the scheme will allow King to play without as much thinking. If he went to a new team he’d have to learn all new scheme signals and play style. King may even be tasked with some slot work with the addition of Stokes and given his performance pre-season.
Kevin King is a serviceable cornerback in the NFL. His success is directly related to his health. He’s only played just over 60% of career games since being drafted. He had a good season in 2019 when healthy. In a duo with one of the best corners in the game, King can have success on a good team with a good scheme. King can prove his ability this year and set up the rest of his NFL career.