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Cory's Corner: Make Or Break Year For King

The issue hasn’t been if Kevin King can play. He has shown that he can be a strong player in the defensive backfield.

The issue is whether or not he can stay on the field. There’s a reason why the Packers just signed cornerback Derrick Jones off waivers, and it’s because general manager Brian Gutekunst needs some assurances.

Thanks to the hamstring injury King suffered during Family Night, he has been held out of practice. Gutekunst tried to reassure everyone that he was “not too concerned” about the injury, but if that’s the case, he wouldn’t have signed the virtual unknown in Jones — a sixth round pick in 2017.

King’s injury history is quite detailed. As a rookie in 2017, he suffered a concussion and a shoulder injury that ended up being a torn labrum in his left shoulder. And last season, King missed a couple games because of a groin injury before suffering a hamstring injury in Week 9 that ultimately ended his season.

You can say a lot of things about King, but you cannot say that he isn’t tough. He has played through a gamut of pain but unfortunately; he can’t get an ounce of good luck. One of the reasons NFL players stay in the league so long is because of good luck. Tom Brady is 42 years old. The two reasons he is still in the league are because he gets the ball out quickly and because he is very fortunate.

This is King’s third season. He doesn’t become a free agent until 2021, but this is a make or break season for him. If he has to miss significant time due to injury this year, the Packers will move on. King has been placed on season-ending injured reserve during his first two seasons, this was supposed the year that he turned heads.

We aren’t even to the second preseason game yet and things don’t exactly look so good. King was supposed to line up opposite of Jaire Alexander and become a virtual vice grips for opposing receivers. Now that will only materialize if King’s hamstrings can get to 100 percent, and judging from the fickle nature of that soft tissue injury, I highly doubt he will be 100 percent this season.

He will itch to play before he is completely healed and before long, his hamstrings will be barking at him. King has hit a rock and a hard place. Does he continue to sit and give up valuable practice reps or does he push it and risk making his injury even worse?

Personally, I would rather sit now. Yes, he is making the front office chew on their fingernails in the meantime, but he has a month before the season starts. He needs to get as healthy as he can be so that he can still be a part of a Packers defense that will be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Bearmeat's picture

King won't play before he's ready, especially with the younguns behind him playing well. But you are right that this is a make or break year for him. He is perilously close to "bust" territory. Him and our other R2 pick from that year.

Ugh. TT, you really sucked the last 5 years on the job.

Nick Perry's picture

There are those staunch Ted T defenders out there that will say you're the wrong BM, but as you know I'm not one of them. I mean how could a guy like Thompson just WHIFF on so many 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks so many times in that time period.

Now I understand Thompson hit on some 4th and 5th round picks with guys like Bahk, Tretter, and Hyde for example in 2013, but in the first 3 rounds for the most part...Terrible.

2013...Datone Jones
2014...HHCD (Okay he didn't blow for about 2 years but for whatever HHCD did give us, Richard Rodgers and Kyrie Thornton taketh away.
2015...One of Ted's absolute worst...Some say the draft that started the fall to medium for the Packers.
2016...Thompson's last decent draft IMO...BUT he still screwed the pooch by trading up to get Spriggs instead of letting the Bears take him as the rumors suggested...Could have stood pat and took Cody Whitehair or other players who would have been better picks at positions of need.

2017...The motherload of all whiffs... TJ Watt...I'll say no more.

Perhaps those who are so critical of Gute after 2 short years should go back and look for themselves just how depleted this roster had gotten under Thompsons last few seasons as GM.
few years as GM.

Packers2019's picture

Completely agree, NP.

Let's not forget the # 1 picks in 2007, Justin Harrell; 2011, Derek Sherrod; and 2012, Nick Perry.

TT's track record for #1 picks was horrid. He hit on those picks less than 50%. 5-12 or 42%. Those picks should be more like 70%.

2nd round picks he was 4-12. Only 33%.

Coldworld's picture

The horse is dead. Further flogging is a waste of time.

Nick Perry's picture

Just look at all the picks Ted used to shore up the defense and it was STILL broke when Gute took over. Needless to say, the offense started to suffer because of all the draft picks going to the defensive side of the ball.

Just saying...Thompsons failings are STILL affecting this team... IMO though Gute has done an excellent job on the fly in a very short time to shore it up. I mean holy crap Batman...TT draft CB/DB in 2015 and 17 W/first 2 picks and Gute STILL had to address the position in 2018 and 19 AND FA with early picks.

I DO understand your point and perhaps my disgust for Thompson clouds my judgment. But the man's choices are still influencing what Gute has had to do.

Coldworld's picture

The failures of the last years of the TT era (or at least the proto Ball era perhaps) have and still linger over the team without a doubt. The roster was aging and shallow due to release mistakes, failure to act to churn and at least one horrendous draft coupled with some unfortunate earlier retentions due to injury.

That said, there is nothing we can do about that, and Gute is in. Unless the issue of interference with Gute’s authority arises, it serves no purpose to rehash. We have to move on and up. This roster has the most depth that we have had in years. That’s a heck of a turnaround.

flackcatcher's picture

Agree CW. We still don't know what went on between 2015 and 2018 inside the front office. Who was making the final call on draft and personal matters. Not Wolf, not Hightower, and not Gute for sure. How much more responsibility did McCarthy take on in the lack of clear direction in the Packer front office. I sure like to know the answer to those questions. But the last two drafts showed that Gute was clearly in charge. So who in the heck was running the show for the last two seasons before Gute. That's what I want to know.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Well stated Nicky. Totally agree.
I do have to admit one thing though.
After their rookie seasons, I actually thought Damarious & Quinten were, gasp, good. And that's despite me cursing out loud when each guy was announced as our pick that draft.

So I wonder sometimes if the DB coaches & Sleepy Dom have some blame there for not developing them, or playing them/DR out of position etc.

Rak47's picture

Without a doubt dumb Dom played a big role in the defenses fall. His schemes were outdated 4-5 years before McCarthy's offense was. Dom constantly played players out of position, like Mike Neal, Casey Hayward, Jarret Bush, to name a few, or played the wrong players for the wrong reasons, like Desmond Bishop because he was supposedly unreliable.

Gort's picture

So, is it cannibalism for "Nick Perry" to be critical of the GM that drafted Nick Perry?

Rak47's picture

I don't necessarily agree this is a make or break year for King. I expect he will be back in GB next year to finish his rookie contact regardless of how many games he plays this year. Next season will be his make or break year imho as he will be playing for another contract either from GB or one of the other 31 teams.

dblbogey's picture

Ron Wolf's track record for #1 picks was shaky.

ricky's picture

You live in a pipe dream world. 70% on first round picks? League wide, the average is closer to 40%. Try googling the first round draft picks for the league in a recent year, and try to say, "Yeah, most of them are All-Pro or headed for the HOF."

GBPDAN1's picture

I agree Bearmeat and Nick Perry , TT's drafts were disappointing during the last 5 years of his command. It put this team in a hole that BG is doing his best to dig us out of.

Whenever I bring up this fact, and say good riddance to another one of Ted's wasted picks as they are jettisoned by BG, I get thumbs downed. I realize that saying negative things about Ted is not a popular topic amongst a lot of Packers fans, but I'm just frustrated that this activity probably cost us another Super Bowl with Rodgers. Just think if Ted hit on a lot (or even half) of those top 3 round picks . We would have had quality starters in place instead of scrambling to reload the roster.

Moving forward, I'm encouraged about the path BG has taken. He has a project on his hands and within 2 years has added talent. Give BG 1-2 more years and I believe this team will be elite again

fthisJack's picture

should have been in the SB in 14...can't put that on TT...that was all MM!

EddieLeeIvory's picture

True. That was a Super Bowl team TT assembled.
Not 100% blame on MM.

Bostick gets a ton.
Rodgers gets some.
Special Teams coach gets some.
MM gets some.

Old School's picture

Nick.....according to that “Expectations “ poll that Backes does, the VAST, overwhelming opinion in Packerland thought the Packers were going to do real well in 2018. How does that square with the ‘depleted roster’ narrative?

In fact, even with a dysfunctional coach/QB relationship, we could have been 10-6 last year with a couple of breaks.

The roughing penalty against Minnesota. Crosby’s very bad day against Detroit. Montgomery’s Boner. A missed FG against Arizona.

We had injuries and found ways to lose, but I don’t blame the last two seasons on depleted roster. I’d say Rodgers health has been much more important than the roster.

Old School's picture

Yeah. Kenny Clark, Blake Martinez, Aaron Jones....and of course, the two championship games. Sucked.

Reality. The stretch from2013 to 2017 is among the better stretches in Packer history, not the worst. Get back to me when Gute makes the playoffs.

Packer Fan's picture

How does a guy like Tramon Williams be in the league and never have hamstring problems. Does King have some preparation issues before games and practices? Fortunately Brown and Hollman are ascending

Savage57's picture

Better genes. Some guys are just wired too tight.

Coldworld's picture

Tramon is an amazingly flexible human being naturally and is now a yoga guru or similar.

fthisJack's picture

running, stretching loosens them up...guys that have that issue need to put that in their daily routine.

jannes bjornson's picture

Woodson stretched for over an hour in pre-game ritual, then did the regular routine. King has to find a method to prepare and should take up Karate to develop flexibility with strength.

Djanko's picture

Packers always seem to take the risk draft players with an injury history, King is just another example. IMO he will out this year at some point and cut next year. Gary concerns me too....bad shoulder they took him, don't they ever learn. Only time will tell.

Leo Van Groll's picture

King missed 3 games as a 4 year starter in college. 1 of those was a death in the family. Durability was one of his strengths in his scouting reports. This is what happens when you post stuff you know nothing about.

TheVOR's picture

Agree around the scouting report coming out. Also College and the Pro game are very different animals. Also, we cannot discount the fact that he had shoulder issues in college. That was out there!

All stated, the dude apparently does not possess an NFL Body. Big difference between college and the Pros. All he's impersonated in the NFL is a huge pile of broken glass. I loved this player coming out, but availability is "KING" in the NFL, and he doesn't possess the ability to stay healthy. If you can't, you're NFL (Not For Long) in this league.

I had high hopes for him this season, but this is it, if he has another injury plagued year, he'll end up going the way of Nick Barnett, Nick Perry, and others who just could stay healthy and available.. My 2..

Coldworld's picture

Perhaps, but best not to jump off bridges till you have a real basis for depression?

Old School's picture

I was a Lombardi Era kid. I thought we’d be fine with Bengston, and with Devine. Very optimistic about Bart, and Gregg had already been successful.

I had high hopes for Bruce Clark, and Rich Campbell, and Brent Fullwood (“Coach....you ever play in this league.?). I thought Lindy Infante and Majik and Sharpe had us on the path after a 10-6 season.

But no. For 25 years after Lombardi, we were mediocre-to-bad. Sometimes unlucky, sometimes stupid.

Anyway, in 1992, the Wolf/Harlan/Thompson era began a 26 year stretch where we had two losing seasons, two Super Bowl victories, and 19 trips to the playoffs after only having 2 from 1968 until then.

Every season since 1992, I’ve thought we had the best team in the division. Even when we went 4-12 or 6- 10 or 7-9 like we did in 2017, I thought we were on the right track. Most of Y’all feel that way now. I don’t. For the first time since 1991, I’m concerned. I see things that make me wonder.

I didn’t jump off the bridge in 87 even when I KNEW we were going to be bad, and I’m not jumping now. I hope the Packers go 16-0 but I see lots of things that could make us 6-10. That’s not optimism or pessimism speaking....it’s experience.

Rak47's picture

Leo, he missed 3 games over his final 3 years, starting in 39 of his teams last 42 games. He did miss something like 6 games as a freshman with hamstring and shoulder issues. But that is still better than T.J. Watt at the time who missed 3 total years to injury not taking the field once from 2012 to 2015. Can you Imagine had TT drafted Watt and he got injured? Hindsight is 20/20 for everyone although many fans seem to think it's exclusive to themselves. If TT had drafted Watt and he wasn't a Badger the fan base would've gone ballistic. But because he was a Badger and TT didn't draft him they go ballistic anyway.

Old School's picture

Don’t try to confuse people with facts.

Is it a do or die year for Aaron Jones, too? He’s missed 1/4 of all games.

Actually, King has played more snaps than Jones since they were both drafted. True fact.

Coldworld's picture

How do you link the signing of a developmental CB to King? Yes they play the same position, but other than the fact that the newcomer has been hampered by injury that contributed to him being cut after a lousy showing by the Jets secondary, he has no other similarity.

There is one player who does. Ento. Like Ento, Jones is a converted receiver who wasn’t a regular starter. Also like Ento, he has prodigious leaping ability. Like Ento, Jones is a project. Ento has been way ahead of the curve but is still likely to be a PS player. Jones has not shown anything that would suggest that he will be a serious candidate for the 53.

Read about him and one sees project. Even if King Retires tomorrow this guy is not part of the solution even if he made the PS.

Let’s at least focus on some real issues rather than stoking up an issue in an area where we have enormous depth thanks to Brown, Hollman and even Sullivan. Sullivan is not even likely to make the roster and not is Ento with or without King.

This is just Gute cycling through available prospects on his board. If this was just to fire up the King haters then I’m disappointed that you would choose such a tenuous connection to fire up clicks.

sbransbottom's picture

I agree Coldworld. Gute is just picking through all the dirt to see if he unearths a diamond. And yes I read that statement at packers.com and I'm using it because it definitely makes sense. How many has Gute picked up off waivers already? You never know what you might find. We have good depth at CB but why ever have your roster under 90? If you have a player you KNOW you aren't even keeping on the PS why not cut him, give him a chance somewhere else, and see what you might find yourself. I'm not a huge TT guy but I don't hate on him as much as some here. With that being said, I'm definitely a Gute believer now.

Rak47's picture

Idk Coldworld, If Sullivan keeps playing as he has so far he will have a real shot. Gute was Quoted today as saying he is not looking for the best 53 but rather the 53 that will make the best team. After reading that, it would not surprise me one bit if King stays injured, and Gute released him along with Josh Jones.

Coldworld's picture

Duplicate deleted

Demon's picture

I would agree this is a make or break year. Too bad he is already broken.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

LOL at the 2 sensitive ones who thumbed u down for stating a fact.
Let them pretend King isn't out again....

Nick Perry's picture

A healthy King would and could really make this defense special. BUT if we get the standard 5, 6, or even (gasp) 10 games out of King I really like Tony Brown and Hollman as the fillers. Or hopefully, Josh Jackson is able to start to practice at a full go and makes the jump we all hoped he'd make too.

At this point, a healthy King is just Gravey or we're pretty damn close to that point.

murf7777's picture

NP....don’t forget about T Williams as he still can play and will be of great help to the young studs. Teams with some aging veterans at less salary are successful and I hope Gutey finds one at ILB so we can move along at a slower pace with Summers and Bolton.

Many of us feel the younger the roster the better but stats shows us that the older teams make it to and win Super Bowls.

Football outsiders have a great article on this subject. Google them with “snap weighted age” and it should pull up. Of course that has also been the Patriots way for many years. Belichick has always been great at finding aging veterans at a low salary.

Harlan Huckleby's picture

I trust the coaches to make the decision based on potential rather than a string of unfortunate injuries. Casey Heyward had a similar run and seems to be ok now.

Coldworld's picture

Last I heard King was moving very well. There is an inherent tendency here to assume he won’t hit the field in time for the season. Yes he had a hammy before. Hamstring injuries aren’t rare and have a vast range of severity. Big leap to assume it’s over for King this year.

King is on a rookie contract. Has shown ability. And if you hadn’t noticed Gute is constantly seeking to upgrade the roster across the board. That’s called rebuilding the pipeline. He does so from every angle available too, even during a period where he has had to restock the starters.

Next year I foresee Tackle, QB, and ILB as probably the remaining areas for deepening, one could add kicker too. We have come a long way, and CB is perhaps the deepest quality group I’ve seen here. There is zero need to move on from King at this point, financially or otherwise, even if he can’t be a regular starter, which is in itself a dubious speculative assumption at this point.

RELAX

Packers2019's picture

I would add WR to that draft group, Cold. We still need a #2 WR.

I will keep saying that until I see MVS, ST Brown, or another WR consistently get open in a real game. Not practice.

Leo Van Groll's picture

Have you been watching??? Kumerow is ALWAYS open.

Packers2019's picture

Leo,

Kumerow is not a #2 WR.

porupack's picture

Cworld, enjoy your usual voice of reason to the quick twitch freak-out once fans label a player, and need to be the first to pronounce the future bust.
Your comparison to Hayward seems appropriate, not to give up on a top CB too early. Older players are sometimes smarter players and take care of themselves better (I certainly do).

sbransbottom's picture

Yes I agree completely. We are deep enough to handle losing King halfway through the season if it comes to that. Casey is a great comparison and another reason along with our depth that we shouldn't give up on King. How would you feel if we lost him to waivers and he dominates for someone else? I don't see any benefits to dropping him now and we aren't exactly risking a lot keeping him either.

sbransbottom's picture

Yes I agree completely. We are deep enough to handle losing King halfway through the season if it comes to that. Casey is a great comparison and another reason along with our depth that we shouldn't give up on King. How would you feel if we lost him to waivers and he dominates for someone else? I don't see any benefits to dropping him now and we aren't exactly risking a lot keeping him either.

Spock's picture

porupack, I had to thumbs up your statement just for the "...quick twitch freak-out..." description of some fans. Hilarious and dead on analysis. :)

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Guys like King and Burks are frustrating, but football is rough sport. Not everyone can play it and stay healthy.

I really hope BG stays away from guys who have shown repeated injuries in the future.

stockholder's picture

I don't believe this is a make or break year for King. Let's Keep this Real. King will stay as long as he wants too. Gute is stock piling DBs, because as many as 5 can be used in defensive schemes now. Too many teams get short handed at the cb position. WE were! The reality is King can play. If a guy can play he isn't a Bust. Sure he pisses people off because he's not playing. Being patient with him is the best approach. He may just blossom into the cb we all believed he could be.

Since '61's picture

Injuries are frustrating and always will be. Especially when a player flashes exceptional ability when they are healthy.

As for King I hope he’s out until he is 100% ready to go without trying to return prematurely. An early return could cause a reinjury and another trip to IR.

I would rather have him miss time early in the season than later. Thanks, Since ‘61

PatrickGB's picture

It’s way too early to call King a bust. Yet his body type may be prone to injury. What makes him a great body type for CB (height and speed) also can indicate an inherent weakness in his frame and propensity for injuries. But the promise of a CB that tall and fast is hard to ignore. I hope he can work with trainers to minimize that risk. If he is a great CB and can play 75-80% of the games then with good backups at that position it is worth the risk.

Bure9620's picture

Real run of bad luck for KK. I think he is a really good player, with high upside. His length really bothers receivers catching windows, it was the first thing I noticed against the Vikings. Combined with his athleticism he is still intriguing to me. Hopefully he can stay on the field l, it is make or break now.

Lare's picture

The biggest problem for King is that he may simply be replaced. The Packers have Jackson, Brown & Hollman who may earn a starting spot and not give it up. That would leave King as an often-injured backup CB, not high up the list for large contract renegotiation.

Coldworld's picture

And therefore possibly cheaper

fthisJack's picture

Jackson is in the same boat as King. he's had injuries and not being on the practice field is hurting his ability to make that 2nd year jump. he's not going to come in and set the world on fire when he returns. i can see a scenario where both Brown and Hollman pass Jackson on the depth chart at some point in the season if they haven't already. heck, even Ento could push for a spot. Gute is stocking up on CB's just in case.

cheesehead1's picture

Disappointing for King yet again. Injured on Family Night of all things. What’s going to happen when the real hitting starts? Any info into his offseason training? Does he work out on his own or have a professional trainer with him? Just curious to know why he keeps getting re-injured so often. Anyway, wish him a 100% recovery soon.

Coldworld's picture

His hamstring strain is not an impact injury.

I also note Gute seems to be optimistic that Burks’ injury is short term. Feel sorry for those who already jumped off the bridge!

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Torn pecs are not "short term" injuries.
What am I missing there?

Coldworld's picture

Sprains are tears. It’s just a spectrum of severity. If surgery is required pectoral tears are not short term and would likely have ended his year. Apparently it is not that severe.

I posted this elsewhere, but;
@TomSilverstein
“ILB Oren Burks said he originally thought he would need to have surgery to repair an injured pectoral muscle and would be out for the year, but after consulting with a specialist it was determined it would heal on its own. Said it’s day to day and no time frame has been given.”

fthisJack's picture

day to day can be a couple months in coachspeak. i would be shocked if he was back before the regular season starts.

dobber's picture

Exactly. A torn pec is not something you can tape up and play with and "day-to-day" seems to be trying to placate the masses. With only a little knowledge in this area, my guess is 4-6 weeks before he's back on the practice field.

Coldworld's picture

Now described as a ‘hyperextension’.

cheesehead1's picture

It’s not just his hamstrings, but doesn’t he have shoulder issues as well, both shoulders? I try to stay optimistic but his track record isn’t encouraging. Nevertheless, still wish King the best and to finally put these injuries behind him.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

How do u guys grade Gute's 2017 Class so far?

Let's see some grades as we head back to school tbis week here in Texas!

Coldworld's picture

I don’t play in his fantasy league so I don’t know.

Gutekunst was appointed in January 2018. Too early to judge his first draft really, but his overall work looks darn promising.

Lare's picture

Tough to grade any player in the preseason, so much depends on the schemes and who they're playing against.

Ask me again next January.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Haven't seen the 2019 guys yet.
These 2018 guys are in their 2nd camp & we've seen a full NFL Season out of them.

How many of these guys do u see as above average NFL Starters?
How many future Pro Bowlers?

Alexander
Josh Jackson
Burks
Jmon Moore
Madison
JK Scott
Scantling
St Brown

IceBowl's picture

So, it seems ya'll think KK is another Perry?

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