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A Complete List of NFL Wide Receivers Desmond King Faced

Making sense of Desmond King’s drop in the draft

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NCAA Football: Northwestern at Iowa
Desmond King has his eye on all the doubters
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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.

2013

Des’ freshman season actually coincided with the most NFL receivers he faced in a single year:

WR Stats vs. Iowa

Player Date School Stats King's Stats Year/Round/Pick
Player Date School Stats King's Stats Year/Round/Pick
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.

2014

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

Player Date School Stats King's Stats Year/Round/Pick
Player Date School Stats King's Stats Year/Round/Pick
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

2015

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

Player Date School Stats King's Stats Year/Round/Pick
Player Date School Stats King's Stats Year/Round/Pick
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

2016

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

Player Date School Stats King's Stats Year/Round/Pick
Player Date School Stats King's Stats Year/Round/Pick
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:

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.