Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy: Packers CB Kalen King Could Be Steal

In the last part of an eight-story series on the Green Bay Packers' draft picks who played in the Senior Bowl, here is Jim Nagy discussing Penn State cornerback Kalen King.
Kalen King
Kalen King / Tork Mason | USA Today Sports Images

GREEN BAY, Wis. – No player’s draft stock plunged more in 2023 than Kalen King, who was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the third-to-last pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

“This was a guy, if you go back a year ago and you Google some mock drafts, this guy was in a bunch of first-round mock drafts over the summer,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said of the Penn State cornerback. “Didn’t have a great year in 2023. If you go back to the 2022 stuff, it was really good. It was good tape. I was wondering, like, was that mock-draft stuff, was that crazy, because based off the 2023 stuff, he certainly didn’t look like a first-round pick. But the 2022 tape was really good.”

The tape was really good; the numbers were great. He was an All-American in 2022, when he had three interceptions and ranked among the national leaders with 21 passes defensed.

In 2023, he had zero interceptions and two passes defensed. He allowed a completion percentage of 61.0, up sharply from 45.8 in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus. However, according to PFF and Penn State’s own grading, King did not allow a touchdown. So, it wasn’t as if he was terrible.

“In our in our world, that’s first and foremost because when they don’t score, they can’t win,” Penn State cornerbacks coach and associate head coach Terry Smith told Packer Central for part of a larger feature.

King was emotional after being drafted, equal parts crushing disappointment of being picked so late, relief that he was picked at all and happiness of a dream coming true.

Having turned the page, he was in a much better spot mentally for the rookie camp. It might not have been the opportunity he was hoping for, but it’s an opportunity he’s ready to attack.

“In that moment, I felt like there was a lot going through my head,” he said. “I felt like the draft, that was the longest three days of my life, the most stressful three days of my life, the most emotional three days of my life. I’d been through every emotion throughout draft weekend. So now, I’m good. I know where I’m at. I know where I’m going to be at. I’m level-headed now and I’m just ready to work.”

It’s not just the lack of production that sank King’s draft prospects. At the Scouting Combine, he ran his 40 in 4.61 seconds. He was a bit faster at pro day, but not enough to change his fortunes as he wound up being the 36th and final cornerback selected.

“He didn’t test great through the pre-draft stuff, and that’s probably why he fell a little bit too,” Nagy said. “From an athletic profile standpoint, you need some of that physical stuff at corner.”

“But there in the seventh round, to me, that’s a great pick. You saw Jayden Reed’s reaction from it. He had to go up against the guy and he already thinks it was a great pick. If this guy can reclaim the form and confidence that he had in 2022, you’ve got a guy that’s going to make your team as a seventh-round draft pick.”

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Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.