With the annual NFL scouting combine now right around the corner, Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus released his latest mock of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Wednesday and he has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a defensive back with the 30th overall selection.
Palazzolo, who adds a disclaimer in his latest mock that it reflects what he would do as GM of each team, has the Steelers selecting Iowa cornerback Desmond King in the first round with the 30th overall selection. He writes of his choice for the Steelers:
Even with Artie Burns added to the mix at cornerback last season, King’s fit is too much to pass up for the Steelers. He has an excellent feel for zone coverage, and few teams play more zone than Pittsburgh. King understands route concepts and can break on the ball with good ball skills (14 interceptions and 24 pass breakups over the last three years), complementing his coverage skills with sure tackling (only 11 misses on 198 attempts in three years).
King, who some major media draft analysts view as best fitting in the NFL as a safety, is listed ahead of the combine at 5’10”, 206-pounds. In the 53 games that he played in at Iowa he registered 263 total tackles in addition to 14 interceptions and 33 total pass breakups.
Here is what Lance Zierlein of NFL.com had to say about King, who he compares to New Orleans Saints safety Jairus Byrd, in his pre combine draft profile:
Lack of size and speed combined with his ball skills, instincts, and competitiveness all point to a transition to safety. While he can improve as a tackler, he’s got the toughness and mentality to take on run-support duties. Can cover in man when asked and has the ball-tracking skills and anticipation that should allow him to thrive in two-deep and single-high situations. A likely second-day (Rounds 2-3) selection and could be targeted as a zone corner or a safety with early starting potential.
While King is indeed one of the top-rated defensive back draft prospects in this year’s draft, you have to wonder if he’s indeed best-suited to play safety at the NFL level as opposed to cornerback. While the Steelers could indeed use another safety to groom to eventual take over for Mike Mitchell, taking King in the first round seems a bit of a reach as we sit here ahead of the scouting combine.
King will obviously be a player to watch closely when he’s in Indianapolis and you can bet one of us will be profiling him on the site in the coming days. In the meantime, below is a King highlight video for you to watch.