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Desmond King’s Fall: Where Have We Seen This Before?

Desmond King’s fall in the NFL draft is reminiscent of another player

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Iowa
What other situation does this remind us of?
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

If you watched the NFL Draft this past weekend and predicted Desmond King would be the fourth Hawkeye snatched off the board, chances are you might be this guy:

As round after round ticked by and King sat as the lone Hawkeye yet to receive a front office call, the Twitter rumor mill began to grumble:

“Is he hurt and no one knew about it?”

“Did he tell scouts he believed the earth was flat?”

“Was a video leaked of him toking up in gas mask?”

Other defensive backs continued to get snatched up around him. Some guy from Lamar, another from San Diego State. And then, finally, with the 151st pick in the 5th round the Chargers picked up what will hopefully be the steal of the draft and Des is headed to Cali. After allowing a few hours for the dust to settle and disbelief to dissipate, the question emerged; where have we seen this before?

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In many ways I think you can compare Desmond’s style and instincts to a notorious blazer and honey-loving varmint from LSU, Tyrann Matthieu. The blazing, in particular, was considered a problem both on and off the field for Matthieu as his 4.51 forty was panned as slow for his relatively small size at 5’9’’ and 186 lbs.

Now take a look at King’s (Twitter handle @BlaqBadger14 BTW). With a slight size advantage at 5’11’’ 202 lbs, his Pro Day forty time was virtually identical to Mathieu’s at 4.5 seconds.

Dig a little deeper into measurables and you’ll see they possess identical arm lengths at 31 1/8 inches and nearly identical hands; Tyrann at 9 3/8 and Des at 9 5/8.

It becomes a bit more difficult to compare head-to-head college statistics due to position differences (TM at S and DK at CB) but they tell a similar story of high production and, ultimately, avoidance from the opposition.

Using Tyrann’s terrific 2011, Heisman-Trophy-finalist season vs DK’s 2015 season (when people dared to throw at him) you can quickly notice parallels.

Comparing Seasons

Player Year GP Tkls TFL PD INT FF Award
Player Year GP Tkls TFL PD INT FF Award
Tyrann Mathieu 2011 13 77 7.5 17 2 6 Chuck Bednarik
Desmond King 2015 13 72 1 13 8 0 Jim Thorpe

Two areas the Honey Badger clearly edges Desmond are tackles for loss and forced fumbles. LSU made use of Mathieu all over the field and blitzed him much more often than Des, which is to say he never blitzed at all. Both made a habit of forcing timely turnovers as Desmond piled up picks and Tyrann preferred to punch balls loose. They also both proved deadly as return men on special teams.

Ultimately, the Bednarik winner out of LSU would be selected with the 69th pick in the 3rd round of the 2013 Draft. A spot many people still speculated was high considering his below average stature and, well, because he really liked to get high.

Apart from the combine measureables or stat sheets, the real equalizer is what both men possess upstairs: incredible football IQs. As all-world athletes and gym rats continue to tantalize early round reaches year after year with hopes of an epiphany translating into super stardom, it’s the crafty ‘badgers’ that find a way to stick. Let’s hope that’s the case in 2017 with Desmond King, the jilted ‘Blaq Badger’.