Many of you already know that one of the middle round players I like is UNLV linebacker Beau Bell. Well another player that really intrigues me is Penn State cornerback Justin King.
King seems like one of those classic "boom or bust" players. But the thing is, he's just one year removed from a stellar sophomore season. And he has terrific measurables, at 5'11, 192, and he ran a 4.31 40. Now, NFL Draft Countdown has King ranked 4th on their prospect hot list. Here's what they say about King:
That sounds good and all, but I also got the opportunity to get a Penn State perspective. Below are the thoughts of Mike from Black Shoe Diaries, SBN's Penn State blog:
Justin King was a complete mystery to Penn State fans last season. In 2006 he was a shutdown corner that completely protected half the field. In 2007 teams were actually picking on him with great success. During the season it was extremely frustrating to see such a great player regress in skill, but after the season we learned he suffered a shoulder injury in week two that hampered his play all year.
When Justin King is healthy he's one of the best cover corners you'll see. He was one of the few cornerbacks I've seen Joe Paterno willing to let loose in one-on-one coverage. He easily possesses sub 4.4 speed and may crack 4.3 on a fast track. But more importantly he controls that speed with the ability to cut on a dime and stay in any wide receiver's back pocket. But again, that's when he's healthy. This year he was not, and it showed.
I believe the shoulder injury really affected his play. Penn State was reluctant to put him in man-to-man coverage this year. I think the injury prevented him from jamming receivers at the line, so Paterno kept him back in cover three and lined him up ten yards off the line of scrimmage. As a result opposing wide receivers were able to run at him full speed and make their cut while he was standing flat footed. The Penn State defense got killed this year from seven and eight yard comebacks and outs, and Justin King was often the target they picked on. I think this was because the shoulder injury also prevented King from getting his hands up and wrapping up the ball carrier once the catch was made. If you go back and look at film you can see he really tried to tackle guys by just lowering his (good) shoulder and knocking them over rather than wrapping them up and bringing them down. This was not the cornerback we saw in 2006.
So if I was going to give a scouting report of a healthy Justin King, I would say he has great speed and knows how to control it. But his size (6'0" 190 lbs) leaves him vulnerable to bigger, more physical wide receivers. He would probably work well in a cover two or zone based scheme, but he probably couldn't line up one on one with Terrell Owens or Randy Moss and be successful. His tackling ability was questionable even when he was healthy. The bum shoulder is something any potential team should consider before drafting him. There were hints that it may need surgery to fix, but I suspect he and his agent will keep that secret until after the combine and draft day.
So clearly, King would come with some risks. But with the possibility of King sitting there at pick #57, he's a very interesting player to discuss because of the physical talent he does possess. Of course, nobody knows what Bill Parcells and company think of him. But it's still something I wanted throw out there to you all.
We thank Mike for his help!
Thoughts on King or any other corners that could be had in rounds 2 or 3?