Thirty-five Defensive Backs are better than Desmond King, according to the draft results. That’s not what many of us saw over his illustrious Hawkeye career. Since he started his second game on campus, I felt he had a track record of shutting down high-quality wideouts.
Yet, a dive into the numbers shows a surprising account of these wide receivers performing well against Iowa and by proxy, Desmond King. Though most of this stems from Iowa’s scheme, which 1) doesn’t force any corner to line up mano-a-mano with a particular wideout and 2) is willing to give up 5-10 yard gains to limit big plays, the list is still pretty surprising.
Des’ freshman season actually coincided with the most NFL receivers he faced in a single year:
WR Stats vs. Iowa
|Da'Ron Brown||8/31/2013||Northern Illinois||7 Rec, 92 Yds, 1 TD||4 tackles, 1 Passes Defended||2015 Round 7 Pick 233|
|Corey Davis||9/21/2013||Western Michigan||2 Rec, 11 Yds, 0 TD||1 tackles, 1 Passes Defended||2017 Round 1 Pick 5|
|Tony Lippett||10/5/2013||Michigan State||2 Rec, 29 Yds, 0 TD||11 tackles||2015 Round 5 Pick 156|
|Aaron Burbridge||10/5/2013||Michigan State||3 Rec, 22 Yds, 0 TD||11 tackles||2016 Round 6 Pick 213|
|Devin Smith||10/19/2013||Ohio State||7 Rec, 72 Yds, 1 TD||12 tackles||2015 Round 2 Pick 37|
|Evan Spencer||10/19/2013||Ohio State||4 Rec, 28 Yds, 0 TD||12 tackles||2015 Round 6 Pick 187|
|Jared Abbrederis||11/2/2013||Wisconsin||3 Rec, 30 Yds, 1 TD||7 tackles||2014 Round 5 Pick 176|
|Deangelo Yancey||11/9/2013||Purdue||2 Rec, 11 Yds, 0 TD||2 tackles||2017 Round 5 Pick 175|
|Jeremy Gallon||11/23/2013||Michigan||6 Rec, 47 Yds, 1 TD||3 tackles, 2 passes defended||2014 Round 7 Pick 244|
|Kenny Bell||11/29/2013||Nebraska||7 Rec, 67 Yds, 0 TD||8 tackles, 1 passes defended||2015 Round 5 Pick 162|
|Quincy Enunwa||11/29/2013||Nebraska||3 Rec, 46 Yds, 1 TD||8 tackles, 1 passes defended||2014 Round 6 Pick 209|
|Jarvis Landry||1/1/2014||Louisiana State||2 Rec, 21 Yds, 0 TD||6 tackles, 1 passes defended||2014 Round 2 Pick 63|
|Odell Beckham||1/1/2014||Louisiana State||2 Rec, 35 Yds, 0 TD||6 tackles, 1 passes defended||2014 Round 1 Pick 12|
You can certainly tell throughout 2013, that King was being targeted far more than in later years. The highlight is probably Iowa’s secondary holding LSU’s NFL tandem of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham in check. Additionally, who would have known Corey Davis was a top 5 pick in the making, as he did almost nothing. All told, only 4 NFL wideouts got TDs against Iowa despite being 12, in total.
It was a light year, in terms of NFL receivers. Though a trend begins to develop as King receives less action since his tackles don’t match receptions for Tyler Boyd or Stefon Diggs.
WR Stats vs. Iowa
|Allen Lazard||9/13/2014||Iowa State||5 Rec, 53 Yds, 0 TD||5 tackles||Not Yet Drafted|
|Tyler Boyd||9/20/2014||Pittsburgh||10 Rec, 153 Yds, 0 TD||4 tackles||2016 Round 2 Pick 55|
|Stefon Diggs||10/18/2014||Maryland||9 Rec, 130 Yds, 1 TD||7 tackles||2015 Round 5 Pick 146|
|Geronimo Allison||11/15/2014||Illinois||1 Rec, 11 Yds, 0 TD||2 tackles, 1 passes defended||2016 Undrafted|
|Kenny Bell||11/28/2014||Nebraska||3 Rec, 53 Yds, 2 TD||4 tackles, 1 int, 1 passes defended||2015 Round 5 Pick 162|
|Josh Malone||1/2/2015||Tennessee||1 Rec, 4 Yds, 0 TD||10 tackles, 1 int||2017 Round 4 Pick 128|
King’s junior year was arguably his best, as he accumulated a Hawkeye-record 8 interceptions on his way to the Jim Thorpe Award. Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman tried his luck going to Tyler Boyd twice when King was defending him, resulting in two first quarter interceptions. After that, Boyd feasted against defenders not named Desmond King
WR Stats vs. Iowa
|Allen Lazard||9/12/2015||Iowa State||7 Rec, 71 Yds, 0 TD||5 tackles, 1 int, 1 passes defended||Not Yet Drafted|
|Tyler Boyd||9/19/2015||Pittsburgh||10 Rec, 131 Yds, 1 TD||8 tackles, 2 int||2016 Round 2 Pick 55|
|Geronimo Allison||10/10/2015||Illinois||8 Rec, 148 Yds, 1 TD||2 tackles, 1 passes defended||2016 Undrafted|
|Deangelo Yancey||11/21/2015||Purdue||9 Rec, 117 Yds, 0 TD||11 tackles, 3 passes defended||2017 Round 5 Pick 175|
|Aaron Burbridge||12/5/2015||Michigan State||5 Rec, 61 Yds, 0 TD||6 tackles, 1 passes defended||2016 Round 6 Pick 213|
Des’ stats below show, frankly, a complete avoidance of him. To accumulate only 18 tackles and 2 passes defended is surprising against this group. Only 1 TD was completed against him all year.
WR Stats vs. Iowa
|Allen Lazard||9/10/2016||Iowa State||7 Rec, 111 Yds, 0 TD||4 tackles||Not Yet Drafted|
|Deangelo Yancey||10/15/2016||Purdue||2 Rec, 92 Yds, 1 TD||4 tackles, 1 int, 1 passes defended||2017 Round 5 Pick 175|
|Chris Godwin||11/5/2016||Penn State||4 Rec, 87 Yds, 0 TD||4 tackles||2017 Round 3 Pick 84|
|Jehu Chesson||11/12/2016||Michigan||2 Rec, 30 Yds, 0 TD||6 tackles, 1 passes defended||2017 Round 4 Pick 139|
|Amara Darboh||11/12/2016||Michigan||1 Rec, 5 Yds, 0 TD||6 tackles, 1 passes defended||2017 Round 3 Pick 106|
So, What Does It Mean?
Frankly, Rob Donaldson is more qualified than I am to talk about what it means:
King ran a 4.52 at Iowa's pro day; practically a clone of Micah Hyde who went in the 5th in 2013. King is going to make teams look foolish. pic.twitter.com/chmaOTcMcl— Rob Donaldson (@RobDFB) April 29, 2017
The admittedly quick breeze through the numbers demonstrates the concerns about King in terms of being a “scheme” corner as he never went up against WR1’s with regularity to shut them down. Instead, his half of the field was avoided, irrespective of which receiver occupied it. Rob added in our group chat:
This past season, Iowa played a lot more cover 3 in an attempt to mask [bad safety play]. However, doing that gave up a lot of underneath YAC opportunities for guys. King stuck to the left virtually every snap, which means he wasn't consistently going up against the top guys and [Greg] Mabin just isn't that great of a player, so when he was left on an island [Mabin] struggled.
All-in-all, it shows King to be elite in terms of executing the scheme he lived in Iowa City. It was a rare occurrence for him to get beat over the top and he missed very few tackles when the ball did go his way. I echo Rob’s tweets and expect him to perform way above his draft pick, making everyone who didn’t watch him 4 years look foolish.