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Chargers 90-in-90: CB Desmond King

The former fifth-round pick has been on of the team’s biggest playmakers since being drafted in 2017.

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by S. Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Desmond left East English Village High School in Detroit Michigan as one of the most productive defender in the state’s history.

As a prep, King helped his team record a 32-6 record across his three years with the varsity squad. As a sophomore, he rushed for 811 yards and nine touchdowns on offense and picked off 10 passes with 44 total tackles. His junior season, he improved to 1,610 and 12 scores with another 12 interceptions and 49 tackles.

His senior year, King set the school’s career rushing record (4,771) by totaling 2,360 yards on the ground and a staggering 33 touchdowns. On defense, he finished with 56 tackles and another seven picks. His 29 career interceptions set the state’s all-time career record and King earned a full sweep of the postseason accolades, including First-Team All-State, All-City, and the state’s “Dream Team.”

As an Iowa Hawkeye, King saw the field immediately as a true freshman. He started 12 games, playing in 13 total during that 2013 season, finishing with 64 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and a fumble recovery. For his efforts, he was named to the First Team All-Freshman Team.

He followed it up with an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection after posting another 64 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, and his first three collegiate interceptions.

During the 2015 season, King broke out in incredible fashion. In 14 starts, King tied the single-season record for interceptions with eight while also setting a career-high in tackles with 72. The third-year starter’s efforts earned him many of the top honors in the country. The coaches and AP voted King a consensus All-American on top of him walking away with the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the country’s top defensive back.

To the surprise of many, King decided against declaring for the NFL draft and came back for his final year with the Hawkeyes. In his final season in Iowa City, King finished with a career-low 58 tackles, 3.5 for loss, three more interceptions, and a forced fumble. He was once again named an All-American, getting a nod to several first-team and second-team squads by the coaches and media. He was also named a finalist for that year’s Jim Thorpe Award and earned All-Big Ten honors as a return specialist.

King saw his stock fall drastically, going from a potential first-round pick to a fifth-round selection in 2017 when he went to the Bolts with the 151st pick.

As a rookie, King enjoyed an impactful season, earning the team’s starting slot defender role following an injury to Jason Verrett. He finished with his still-standing career-best 76 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, a pick six, and five pass breakups. His TFLs actually tied the mark for the most by a rookie defensive back in league history.

The best season of his young career came in 2018 when the team enjoyed a 12-4 record and their first trip to the playoffs in five years. While playing in all 16 games with eight starts, King was named a First-Team All-Pro as a corner and a Second-Team member as a return specialist in a 64-tackle, three-interception, 10-PBU season.

In 2019, things unfortunately took a bit of a downward turn for Dez. After showing the entire league he could perform amongst the best in multiple phases of the game, he recorded a fairly forgettable season that was marred by special team fumbles and blown assignments in coverage. It was also his first season as a professional without an interception.

In 2020, King will be looking to earn the respect of his teammates once again, even if it means having to split time in the slot with newly-acquired Chris Harris Jr. in the fold.

Basic Info

Height: 5-10
Weight: 200
College: Iowa
Experience: 3
Years with team: 3

Contract Status

Desmond King signed a 4 year, $2,679,992 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $279,992 signing bonus, $279,992 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $669,998.” - Spotrac.com

The Good

From the moment King was drafted, he became one of the most consistent tacklers on the team. He’s not afraid to mix it up in the run game and that’s been a huge help for a team that hasn’t been all that great in terms of rushing defense the last few years.

In coverage, King has always been an opportunist. He isn’t the greatest of athletes at the position but his football IQ is massive and it’s consistently helped him be in the right spot at the right time early on in his career. Two of his four career interceptions have been returned for touchdowns and he’s also recorded multiple punt return scores, as well.

The Bad

There honestly wasn’t a ton of negatives to King’s game through the first two seasons of his career. However, he took a significant and surprising step back in 2019 where he struggled across the board. Whether it was missed assignments in coverage or numerous blunders in punt returns, King looked nothing like his 2018 form that earned him a nod on the All-Pro First Team squad.

Due to King’s lack of security on special teams, Lynn went out and drafted Joe Reed and signed Darius Jennings in order to sure-up both kick and punt returns.

Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2020?

King is a sure-fire lock for the final roster but what his playing time allotment will look like in 2020 is beyond me or anyone at this point. The addition of Chris Harris Jr. means his starting Nickel job is gone but he’s too talented of a player to ride the pine all that much. When Harris gets put outside, King will come in at the slot. There’s also a chance he plays a little safety in certain packages but at the end of the day, King will see the field plenty on a week-to-week basis.