Can Kevin King Salvage His Disappointing Career?

The Green Bay Packers went 13-3 last season, won the NFC North and reached the NFC Championship Game for a second straight year. The Packers lost to Tampa Bay, though, 31-26, in the conference title game and the offseason has been packed with drama.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay, but the Packers have insisted they won’t move him. Stay tuned for more theatrics in the days ahead.

With or without Rodgers, Green Bay will start training camp on July 28. Throughout the rest of the month, I will count down the ‘30 Most Important Packers’ heading into the 2021 campaign.

At No. 18 is cornerback Kevin King. The other players that have been revealed in the top-30 are listed at the bottom of the story.

No. 18

CB Kevin King

Last season: The oft-injured King missed five games with a quadriceps injury during a disappointing 2020 season.

King was penalized six times in 2020, broke up just five passes and didn’t have an interception. Opposing quarterbacks had a 115.0 passer rating when throwing at King, and according to Pro Football Focus, he allowed a completion rate of 70.3%.

King then had one of the poorest performances in Packer playoff history when he allowed two touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game vs. Tampa Bay, including a 39-yarder to Scotty Miller with one second left in the first half. Making matters worse, King’s pass interference penalty with just less than two minutes left in the game prevented Green Bay from getting the ball back.

King’s lousy 2020 hurt him in free agency, and the Packers eventually brought him back on a one year, $5 million deal.

Career to date: King has missed 23 of 68 games with a variety of injuries since coming to Green Bay in 2017. Those injuries include shoulder, concussion, groin, hamstring, a second shoulder, and a quadriceps in 2020.

The physical nature of the game has taken a toll on King’s performance, too. King ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at the 2017 NFL Combine, but didn’t show any of that speed during a rough 2020 season.

King, a former second-round draft choice, gave the Packers next to nothing his first two years in the league.

King played nine games his rookie season of 2017, then underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder. King then played in just six games in 2018 due to a groin injury and a hamstring injury that eventually sent him to the injured reserve list.

King played just 32.4% of the defensive snaps during his first two years in Green Bay. And of the 15 games King played in those seasons, he finished just 10.

King took a major step forward in 2019, though, and in the process, Green Bay’s secondary also made substantial gains.

King finished eighth in the league in 2019 with 15 passes defensed and tied for third with five interceptions. King was also ranked as the No. 1 cornerback inside the 20-yard line by Pro Football Focus.

Unfortunately for King and the Packers, though, the unreliable cornerback took a major step back in 2020.

Outlook: Although the Packers brought back the much-maligned King for a fifth season, there’s no guarantee he can hold off rookie first round draft choice Eric Stokes.

Stokes ran the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds at Georgia’s pro day, a time that’s believed to be the fastest in the 2021 draft. Stokes also had a vertical jump of 38.5 inches and posted a 10-8 broad jump. 

Stokes has a lot to learn, but is clearly the future at the position. It seems likely Stokes will pass King at some point. The only question is when?

Comments

“As far as scar tissue, really, I think as defensive backs you kind of grow up and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to have the shortest memory in the game ‘cause you can make a play and they’re going to come at you, you can lose a play and they’re going to come at you. I don’t think he has to … carry that around. It’s going to be 2021. We’re going to line up against someone else next year and hopefully he gets the job done.” — Packers defensive backs/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray on King bouncing back from the 2020 NFC Championship Game

“Well you know, time will tell. It’s all about competition in this league and certainly we think (Stokes) is a very talented player that obviously has great speed, coverage skills, great length. But it’s a competitive situation. I talked to Kevin (in April) and he realizes that. … Our goal as a coaching staff is always to get the best 11 out on the field. The more competition you have at every position I think that brings out the best in each individual player, which obviously helps this football team.” — Packers coach Matt LaFleur on the competition between King and rookie cornerback Eric Stokes

“I’m excited about him. I’ve always been a fan. Loved him when he came out, so we obviously did a lot of work on him at the previous place I was at. So very happy to be working with him and have him present here. It’s been awesome.” — Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry on King

“A lot of good football players have to go through something to become great. And when I talk to Kevin I’ve talked to him about, ‘Where do you want to go?’ The good thing is that Kevin is healthy and he was ready to go this offseason. He’s actually (been) here when he doesn’t have to be here, which is a good sign that he wants to work. He’s trying to get the thing that he wants to get done. We kind of set some goals down and hopefully he’s kind of working to that.” — Packers defensive backs/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray on King

THE TOP 30

• No. 30 — OG Jon Runyan

• No. 29 — ILB De’Vondre Campbell

• No. 28 — WR/PR Amari Rodgers

• No. 27 — CB Chandon Sullivan

• No. 26 — ILB Krys Barnes

• No. 25 — WR Allen Lazard

• No. 24 — CB Eric Stokes

• No. 23 — DE Kingsley Keke

• No. 22 — OG Lucas Patrick

• No. 21 — RB AJ Dillon

• No. 20 — OLB Preston Smith

• No. 19 — C Josh Myers

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