A few weeks ago we discussed the possibility of Seattle drafting Kevin King (CB, Washington) in the first round — with one caveat.
He had to have a great combine.
It’s well advertised the Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback earlier than the fourth round in the seven years of the Pete Carroll era. Two questions come to mind:
1. How easy is it to continue doing that?
2. What would it take to change that trend?
To answer question one, it is becoming increasingly difficult. Lance Zierlein highlights the problem:
“Speed matters, but more teams are beginning to trend toward length and takeaways over all else at the position. While there have always been teams who covet size at cornerback (including Green Bay), Seattle’s combination of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman from years ago had to be an eye-opener for teams.”
Pretty much since 2013, teams have been looking to mimic Seattle’s approach to defensive backs. Richard Sherman likely wouldn’t be available in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. He was right there for them in 2011.
‘Their guys’ are going earlier.
Question two comes down to two things. The first is a need at the position. For a long time Seattle had good depth at corner. Unless the likes of Pierre Desir, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and DeAndre Elliott step forward in 2017, that isn’t going to be the case this year. Deshawn Shead’s injury increases the urgency to find a starter.
Secondly, it’s down to whether there’s a freaky enough athlete at #26. They’re not breaking this trend for Mr. Average, especially at cornerback. We know what the Seahawks like in round one — traits.
Kevin King has freaky potential.
At the 2016 Husky Combine he ran a 4.02 short shuttle, a 6.40 three-cone, jumped 39.5 inches in the vertical and 10-10 in the broad. If he repeats that three-cone at the NFL combine it’ll be the fastest by any player at any position. His broad jump would’ve matched Vernon Hargreaves’ effort a year ago for third best among cornerbacks. His 39.5 inch vertical would’ve also ranked third.
The only question mark is long speed.
“I’m told the big corner has been running under 4.4 seconds hand-timed during combine training. When converted to electronic timing, King has spanned the 40 yards in about 4.45 seconds.
And while 4.45 is by no means an extraordinary time, it beats any expectations scouts had of King’s foot speed.
Consider the fact that scouts believed King to be a high-4.5 second corner in the 4.58-second range and that, throughout the season, speed was the sole criticism I heard about his game. The conversations usually went something to the extent of, “He [King] has the size and ball skills but can’t run.”
If he’s able to break into the mid-4.4s on the final day of combine workouts, King will cement himself as a top-45 selection.”
The average forty time of the cornerbacks drafted by Pete Carroll is 4.51. If King runs in the 4.4’s with outstanding height and length, incredible short-area quickness and explosive physical traits — he could be in contention at #26.
His tape isn’t bad either. In five games I didn’t see him beaten over the top once. He’s adept at covering crossing routes and comfortably lined up in the slot a year ago. He broke up 15 passes in 2016 — as many as Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley and one less than Tre’Davious White and Adoree’ Jackson.
Like a lot of corners in this draft he can be more physical and improve his tackling.
There are reasons why King at #26 might not happen even if he does run a 4.4. The depth at the cornerback in this draft could allow Seattle to wait until rounds 2-3 for someone like Rasul Douglas, Howard Wilson or Ahkello Witherspoon. If Haason Reddick is there at #26, he’d be tough to pass up. Obi Melifonwu might be bigger, faster and freakier. If a slot corner is the priority maybe they consider Budda Baker, Adoree’ Jackson or a Justin Evans?
Yet King remains a very intriguing option for Seattle. And if he really does run in the 4.4’s, he will be one of the big winners at the combine.