The Green Bay Packers have a star in the making at cornerback. Jaire Alexander, a former 2018 first-round Packers pick, has the ability along with the confidence to be a star in the NFL. In his short career, he has made a name for himself as a cover corner. Alexander has grabbed a lot of national media attention. But the starting cornerback opposite of Alexander is just as vital for the Packers secondary. Kevin King brings another element to the Packers defense.
Kevin King Makes the Green Bay Packers Secondary Better
While Alexander is the yin to the Packers secondary, Kevin King is the yang. Alexander is the athletic explosive cornerback. There is little doubt that if Alexander stays healthy throughout his career, he will be the type of cornerback that will grab a lot of attention. King isn’t as athletic as Alexander, or the talker, but he does have the ability to be just as good.
Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine likes to utilize a lot of different types of coverages. But one of his favorites is man to man with an emphasis on bump and run coverage. Alexander has the ability to play that type of coverage, but King thrives at it.
During the 2017 NFL combine, King was clocked in the 40-yard dash with a 4.43. The speed drew attention. But King’s size is what really stood out. A cornerback with that speed and the size, 6’3″, is a rarity. His long wingspan makes his ability to play bump and run coverage a lot easier. Something that is a major asset in Pettine’s defense.
Wisconsin football fans are dedicated. Along with their love of the green and gold, they have the same type of passion for the Wisconsin Badgers. The passion Wisconsin football fans have makes the Packers one of the best fan bases in the NFL. But that passion they have for Badger football has added unnecessary pressure to Kevin King.
In the 2017 NFL draft, the Packers owned the 29th overall pick. When the 29th pick came up for the Packers they had the opportunity to select former Badgers standout pass rusher TJ Watt. The Packers were in need of a young pass rusher, so it was assumed that Watt was a slam dunk. But then general manager Ted Thompson had other ideas.
Thompson chose to trade out of the first round, moving down to the 33rd pick. That is when Kevin King heard his name called. For Wisconsin football fans, it was a curious decision. Along with passing on Badgers hero Watt, Thompson used the pick on a position many considered not a pressing need. That is because Thompson in the 2015 NFL draft, used a first-round pick on cornerback Damarious Randall and a second-round pick on cornerback Quinten Rollins.
If being the Packers top draft pick wasn’t enough pressure, King was faced with even more. Throughout his short career, many have compared King to Watt and what he has done. It is a foolish comparison and a reach. But the way that King has performed so far this season, he is starting to realize his potential. Still, he will need to stay healthy, which is a big if.
Kevin King is starting to play up to his potential this season. However, his three-year career has been a trying one when it comes to overcoming injuries.
In 2017, his rookie season, he played in nine games, starting five of them. He registered 22 solo tackles, five pass deflections, but no interceptions. His rookie campaign was cut short due to a shoulder injury. The shoulder injury forced King to have surgery.
After an off-season of rehabbing, King returned in 2018 but once again saw his season cut short. King played in six games, starting all six. He registered 15 solo tackles, deflected two passes, and had one interception. King missed two games due to a groin injury and then in week nine, he suffered a hamstring injury that ended his season.
King and the Packers were hoping that this season would be different. In training camp, King dealt with a groin injury, one that has lingered into this season. But unlike seasons past, the injury hasn’t forced him to miss any games so far.
It appeared that he might miss last week’s matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. But before game time, King was moved from doubtful to questionable. It turned out to be a major blessing for the Packers. He turned in a solid performance. He registered six solo tackles, two pass deflections, and a very important interception.
The fact that King was able to overcome an injury and still play could be a very big turning point in his career. It illustrates that he has the mindset to overcome nicks and play through pain. He has become a very vital piece for the Packers defense. Having him available, something that hasn’t always been the case, was a major move forward for him and the Packers.
Another Dynamic Duo
Jaire Alexander and Kevin King believe they are the best cornerback duo in the league. While it seems that it might be too early in the season for that prediction, they are off to a good start to realizing it. But this wouldn’t be the first time the Packers have had a strong starting cornerback combination.
From 2006-2010, cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris held the starting cornerback positions for the Packers. Woodson, a former Heisman winner, was the playmaker. His athletic ability made him the playmaker of the two. While Harris was the strong tough cornerback who was known for his bump and run coverage.
Woodson is Hall of Fame-bound so comparing Alexander, at least so early in his career, is a stretch. But there are some traits that are comparable. For Kevin King and Harris, they too have a lot of traits that are comparable.
King is the better athlete of the two, but they both possess the same type of bump and run coverage. Having two cornerbacks that can even remotely be compared to Woodson and Harris is a major asset for the Packers secondary.
Health will always be a concern for Kevin King. But if he can overcome those obstacles, his presence makes the Packers defense even better. When King is opposite of Alexander, opposing offenses will have a tough time getting to the end zone. That will give the Packers an even bigger chance to win football games.
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