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Free agent profile: Cornerback Desmond King

Cornerback Desmond King would fit very well in Head Coach Vic Fangio’s defense with the Denver Broncos.

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

One big area of need facing the Denver Broncos and newly hired General Manager George Paton is the teams cornerback unit. The unit struggled at times in 2020, dealt with injuries and suspensions throughout the year and is one of the bigger glaring weakness the team has right now. So, I expect the Broncos to add some talent and depth to this position during free agency. One player who I think would be an excellent addition to the Broncos secondary is former Chargers and Titans cornerback, Desmond King.

Player Profile

Desmond King, Cornerback, Tennessee Titans
Height: 5-10”
Weight: 200lbs
Age: 26
Experience: 4 NFL Seasons

King was a fifth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers. He quickly became a contributor for the Chargers before being dealt to the Titans this past trade deadline.

During King’s four NFL seasons, he has totaled 243 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, 14 quarterback hits, 4 interceptions, 19 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. This past year for the Chargers and Titans, King totaled 55 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 quarterback hits, 2 pass deflections, and one fumble recovery for one defensive touchdown. King also has two punt returns for a touchdown as awell.

If signed, King would join cornerback’s Bryce Callahan and Michael Ojemudia as the teams starting corners in 2021. He would add versatility, physicality, and some much-needed talent/depth to the cornerback unit.

Why it makes sense

Well, King is one of the top cornerback’s available on the free agent market while the Broncos biggest need is at cornerback. So it makes sense to connect the two together.

Also, King would be an excellent it Head Coach Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme. He’s a physical corner who can play inside or outside. He’s an excellent slot corner and has shown to be an effective blitzer when asked to do that.

Pro Football Focus ranked King as their 21st best free agent this offseason and the third-best cornerback currently in the free agent market. Here’s what they had to say about the impending free agent cornerback.

The jury is still out on exactly how good Desmond King is and can be going forward. Since coming into the NFL, King is still — just about — the best-graded slot defender in football, but that is all built on his play over the first two seasons of play for the Chargers. He posted back to back overall PFF grades of 85.7 and then 88.6 before coming off the boil and failing to find that same production since.

He was ultimately shipped out of Los Angeles for close to nothing, suggesting that the team either didn’t believe in him or had bigger concerns about his presence in the locker room. He graded at just 50.5 in coverage during the regular season in Tennessee. King is still young and has shown the ability to be good at every part of defending the slot in today’s NFL, but his elite tape is getting further in the rear-view mirror.

Contract Analysis: Following a deadline trade from the Los Angeles Chargers for a 2021 sixth-round pick, King will now look to cash in with the Tennessee Titans after a likely playoff run. In King’s first game with his new team, he returned a fumble 63 yards for a touchdown en route to a 24-17 win over Chicago.

King was also ranked as the 40th best cornerback in the NFL in 2020 by Pro Football Focus and received an overall grade of 67. In the past, he has ranked as the 29th, 2nd, and 8th best cornerback in the league, so 2020 was his worse season so far according to the PFF grading system.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If signed, I think he and Callahan can mix and match in the secondary based on the best match ups for each. Both are similar players and both would team up well in the Broncos secondary. Add in Vic Fangio’s scheme and coaching and I think they can bring out the best in King.

The Broncos will face Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert four times a year, so if you want to win the AFC West, you’ll need to slow down those passing offenses. King is a step forward there.

Why it doesn’t make sense

Well, he was traded away from the Chargers for the Titans 6th round selection. That’s not much value, so it makes you wonder if there was something up that made his value so low despite being an effective corner in the past. Also, 2020 was arguably KIng’s worse season as a pro so which player are you getting? The one who excelled in 2018 and 2019, or the one that struggled at times in 2020?

Also, the Titans did acquire King(even if it was a sixth-round pick) in a contract year, so one can imply that they believe he can be a piece for their future and look to re-sign King and removing him from the market.

Final Thoughts

King is one of my favorite fits for the Broncos in free agency. He’s a physical corner who can inside or outside much like Bryce Callahan, he can tackle and also offers some versatility as a returner as well. Add in that he’s a corner who fits into a zone scheme that Fangio typically runs and you have a great fit at corner

Right now, the Broncos really just have 2020 draft pick Michael Ojemudia who had an up and down rookie season and Bryce Callahan as sure things at corner currently on the roster. The rest are the very least, are on the roster bubble. So depth and at least one starter is likely going to be added this offseason. I’d expect the starter to be added through free agency and another via the draft with some depth options added throughout the offseason.

I do have some concerns with his talents kinda overlapping with Bryce Callahan, but if Fangio wants to continue using him outside, King who’s an established slot corner could flourish in that role in Fangio’s scheme.

Also, he was a highly productive corner while with the Chargers, but his play has slipped the past two seasons and he was dealt away for peanuts so there could be some red flags potentially out there as well.

With all that said, I think he could be a solid addition to the Broncos secondary.


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