Former Iowa Desmond King made his was from a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, to starting for the Los Angeles Chargers and now, he’s an instant playmaker.
Here are five thing you need to know about King.
Who is Desmond King? 5 things to know about the Chargers cornerback
King’s 2015 season was one of the best all-time for an Iowa cornerback
It always seems like King was an underrated cornerback during his time in Iowa City. But, playing in a conference that also includes Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker might force you to sit in an unfortunate back seat.
That didn’t stop King, as he was awarded the Jim Thorpe Award in 2015, honoring the nation’s best cornerback, the Tatum-Woodson Award in 2015, honoring the best defensive back in the Big Ten, and was named a consensus All-American in 2015.
King’s 2015 season was a large factor in Iowa’s 12-0 regular season that season. His final season stat line: 72 tackles, 13 passes defended and eight interceptions.
Furthermore, he was also one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded cornerbacks during the 2016 season.
That should explain how King has found success with the Chargers, but not why he was picked in a later round of the 2017 NFL Draft…
King’s NFL Draft stock dropped – for no good reason
As King returned to Iowa for his senior season, and most NFL scouts saw him as a potential first-round pick and for good reason. He was graded well, performed on Saturdays and was among the best in the nation.
However, a combination of things did King in: King’s lack of productivity his senior year, his 2017 NFL Combine times and lastly, and maybe most maddening, his size.
“My measurables were a downfall for me,” King told the L.A. Times. “They would say I’m too short to play cover corner. I’m not fast enough. To me, I’m a ball player. I’m a guy who’s just going to give my all on every play and compete. That’s the player I think I am.”
King went from a potential late-first round to mid-second round draft pick, to out of the first two round completely. This all culminated with King sliding all the way past the fourth round and into the fifth, where the Chargers took him with the seventh pick of the fifth round (151st overall).
Once in the NFL, King found a way to shine
Los Angeles, who already had two stand-out corners in Jason Verrett and recently-signed Casey Hayward, took a flyer on King with that fifth round pick.
And at this point, it’s a safe bet they’re not regretting it.
Fighting for a roster spot, King did the one thing which made the most sense: play all the positions. During training camp and the preseason, King spent time at safety, nickel and cornerback while trying to stick at one position.
“You have to make the transition (to each of the positions) pretty quick,” King told chargers.com. “It’s a split second when you have to know what you have to do at that position. I feel like me learning the playbook is the most important thing. I’m in a pretty good position right now to play all three positions. That just shows the versatility; you’re more valuable when you’re out on the field. I just have to keep it up.”
King made his first NFL start against the Miami Dolphins
With Verrett week-to-week with a knee injury, King got his shot at an NFL start in his most familiar position.
In Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins, King got his first NFL start. In that start, he went up against the likes of Miami’s DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, Julius Thomas and Kenny Stills.
King recorded six tackles in the game, with one of those being a seven-yard tackle for loss in the Chargers 19-17 loss to the Dolphins.
With another strong showing, King could be L.A.’s cornerback of the future
King’s six-tackle performance was no shock to Iowa fans; the former Hawkeyes cornerback barely missed tackles during his time in Iowa City.
However, now King has a chance to really make himself stick in Los Angeles.
With Verrett injured, and on the last year of his contract, a strong impression by King might convince the Chargers’ brass to stick with him over the oft-injured Verrett.
If King can conjure some of his 2015 Iowa season magic in the NFL, he won’t the Chargers’ best-kept secret anymore. In fact, he has the potential to be among the best defensive backs in the entire AFC.