Somewhere on the recruiting trail, Jimmy Lake is smiling.
The Washington Huskies’ Co-Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach has inherited a slew of talent in the secondary since his arrival in Seattle in 2014. What he’s done with that talent is remarkable, producing six players currently on NFL rosters in that span of time. That includes Green Bay Packers’ cornerback Kevin King, one of three second-round picks coached by Lake in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Lake’s success doesn’t end there. Following Huskies Head Coach Chris Petersen from Boise State to Washington in 2014, Lake coached a pair of former Broncos to the NFL in Donte Deayon and former 2013 second round pick Jamar Taylor, one of the school’s best cornerbacks of all time. With a coaching pedigree that includes time as a defensive backs coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions, Lake knows what it takes to make it to the NFL.
For Packers fans, this is very promising. Lake has only continued a stretch in which Washington has arguably become “DB U.” The list currently reads as follows: Desmond Trufant, Greg Ducre, Travell Dixon, Shaq Thompson (safety and linebacker), Marcus Peters, Budda Baker, Sidney Jones, and King. The latter three made up 75% of the Huskies’ starting secondary a season ago.
Trufant was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015. Peters, a first round pick in 2015, has been no slouch either. Named to the Pro Bowl both seasons of his career thus far as well as holding 2015 Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, Peters has intercepted 14 passes already in two seasons. Will Kevin King be the next in line to earn a ticket to the league’s all-star game?
Two months before April’s draft, King was supposed to be the second Husky defender off the board. Jones was the more highly touted cornerback, perhaps rated as high as a top 15 pick, before tearing his Achilles at his March Pro Day. Jones, who displayed great instincts to go with his size and speed in college, was compared to the lockdown Peters. Yet, as more scouts watched Jones’ tape, more and more were drawn to his counterpart on the other side of the field as well.
Kevin King is not like the other aforementioned Washington corners. At 6’3” with 32” arms, 4.43 speed, and a 39.5” vertical at the combine, he’s longer, taller, and, oddly enough, faster. He played the boundary and slot, while lining up at safety as well during his college career. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock was high on King, predicting that his best football was ahead of him with his ball skills and ability to press receivers. With 4.43 speed, the Packers hope that King will not only press receivers, but have the recovery speed to catch up in the occasion he gets beat early in his career.
The raw tools are certainly there, and it is now Green Bay’s task to make them all come together as King plays predominantly on the outside in the pros. It took a bit longer than hoped to get King on the field after the draft; he wasn’t allowed to take part in team activities until Washington classes finished, similar to first-round pick Kenny Clark last year. King was able to be a part of the mid-June minicamp, but took it slowly as he came back from the disadvantage of having extended time off, completing mostly in individual drills. Undoubtedly, he will have some catching up to do.
With training camp quickly approaching, Packers fans will have the opportunity to see King’s potential up close and in person. With Jimmy Lake’s track record of producing cornerbacks, including yet another in freshman All-American cornerback Taylor Rapp a season ago, all signs point to King’s potential being realized in the NFL and another smile for Lake.