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Can Kevin King become the Packers’ Richard Sherman?

The Packers thinks so, hoping the versatile former Husky is the next Washington defensive back to thrive in the NFL.

Arizona State v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Washington cornerback Kevin King may not have been as highly regarded as his college teammate, Sidney Jones. Nevertheless, the Packers liked his potential enough to make him the No. 33 overall pick in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.

King started his career with the Huskies at safety, which is where he stayed his first two years until coach Chris Petersen arrived in 2015. When Marcus Peters was dismissed from the team, King moved to cornerback and excelled, teaming up with Jones to form one of the country’s best cornerback duos.

The Oakland native gained national attention in 2016 as the Huskies rode an elite defense to the Pac-12 title and the semifinals of the College Football Playoff. Teams shied away from Jones and tried to attack King. It didn’t work — according to Pro Football Focus, King didn’t allow a single touchdown last season.

An honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection, King made one of the year’s most spectacular plays against Arizona State, hauling down an interception with just one hand.

At 6’3, 200 pounds, King certainly fits the mold of bigger, more physical cornerbacks that are popular in today’s NFL. He also has some speed to go with that frame, clocking a 4.43 40 time at the Combine.

Along with Jones and Budda Baker, King is part of an impressive run of Washington defensive backs, following in the footsteps of Peters, who went on to become a superstar for the Kansas City Chiefs.

King will draw the inevitable comparisons to Richard Sherman, both for his size and physical play. He says he’d like to remain in Seattle as well, to learn from the All-Pro corner. There are some holes to his game, but he has the physical tools and upside to develop into a shutdown cornerback at the pro level.

Why did the Packers draft King?

Versatility is one of King’s biggest attributes. He can play both outside and in the nickel position, and even has experience at safety. He’s good in man coverage, where he can jam receivers at the line and throw them off their routes. King might be even better in zone, where he’s excellent at anticipating routes and eliminating the quarterback’s options. At his best, he can take away half the field.

Despite a lack of interceptions (two in his senior year and a total of six for his career), King has a keen sense of timing and instincts to knock down passes. Of course, it helps having a tall, rangy body to work with. As illustrated in the video above, he can produce a (highlight) turnover.

What are some potential concerns?

King’s tackling technique is shoddy. He prefers to go low and dive at the ankles and legs rather than wrap up. As a result, he can sometimes look silly missing on shoestring tackle attempts. Plus, he doesn’t always play up to his size, so he’s not as effective in run support.

Despite not giving up a touchdown last year, he was still beaten, particularly by speedy receivers on deep-ball routes. He’ll have to do a better job jamming receivers with superior straight-line speed. If not, he’ll find himself on the losing end in highlight reels more often than he’d like.

Like most physical corners, King uses his hands a lot and likes to test the limits of what he can get away with, which will surely draw extra scrutiny from NFL referees. He’s vulnerable on comeback routes and underneath plays, where he tends to be stiff pursuing the ball carrier.