Chargers' Desmond King Graded as Top-2 Defender from 2017 Draft Class
Jason B. Hirschhorn
Desmond King's 2019 season didn't unfold as he or the Los Angeles Chargers planned. The former All-Pro defensive back and return man had more lapses on the field than in past years and missed a Week 14 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars for a disciplinary matter. The team responded this offseason by critiquing King's performance during media availabilities and by adding veteran Chris Harris Jr. -- ostensibly to take over for King as the top slot corner -- through free agency.
But despite the uncertainty surrounding his role and future with the Chargers, King grades out as one of the top young defenders by at least one metric. Pro Football Focus, which assesses every player on every snap using a proprietary rubric, lists King as the second highest graded defender from the 2017 NFL Draft with an overall score of 90.5.
King, one of the quieter and more understated members of the Chargers' locker room, reacted to Pro Football Focus' grades in his signature style:
While King might not see as much time as the top slot corner this season, the Chargers would most likely benefit from using him extensively in other roles. With Adrian Phillips departing for the New England Patriots this offseason, the defense has a vacancy at another key spot. King's physical tools and play-making ability could allow him to fill that void and improve the secondary as a whole.
Regardless, King remains a dangerous returner capable of turning virtually any playable punt into a big play for Los Angeles. Though his average fell from 13.8 to just 5.6 last season, he scored the second special-teams touchdown of his career.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH