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Scouting Penn State's Justin King

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:

Even before the start of the 2007 season there were strong indications that Justin King would enter the draft early, especially since he was on track to graduate after just three years, and even though he did not have the junior season most were expecting that's exactly what he did. On paper King looks like a Top 10 pick with an ideal blend of size (5-11, 192), speed (4.31) and athleticism but the problem is those physical tools have not always translated into on-field production. Still, King has been one of this year's "Workout Warriors" and he has gone from a probable 3rd or 4th round pick all the way up to the 2nd round range and he even has an outside shot of cracking the latter portion of round one. He has some question marks but it's hard not to fall in love with those measurables and if the light ever does come on he can be a true #1 corner in the NFL.

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:

Which Justin King are you interested in drafting? The 2006 Justin King that held Ted Ginn Jr. to two catches for 15 yards, held All American Robert Meachum to 4 catches for 33 yards, and basically covered the entire 1/3 of the earth not already covered by water? Or would you like to draft the 2007 Justin King that gave up 142 yards and two touchdowns to James Hardy, 139 yards and three touchdowns to Devin Thomas, and seemingly couldn't cover anyone effectively?

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?