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Would the Packers benefit from moving Kevin King to safety?

The overall struggles of the Packers’ deep half of the secondary could leave room for King to add safety back to his resume if cornerback does not pan out.

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

When drafted in the second round out of the University of Washington a year ago, Kevin King entered the NFL with a versatile skill set, having played both cornerback and safety for the Huskies. In league circles, there was some uncertainty about which position would better suit the athletic King, who boasted impressive size-speed-length traits in pre-draft workouts.

A little over a year into his injury-limited professional career, King has been inconsistent at corner for the Packers. He has made some splash plays in coverage, including an interception last week against San Francisco that led to the offense’s game-winning drive. He’s also had moments where he has been beaten badly, such as an inside slant for a touchdown versus Minnesota earlier in the year. After playing cornerback exclusively for only a couple years in college, King is experiencing the youthful ups-and-downs of playing corner in the NFL.

Coming off perhaps the best game of King’s career in which he intercepted his first NFL pass, it might be an odd time to be discussing his future at a different position. But with the Packers’ troubles at safety, would King be a better fit in the short and long term to move back to the position that he played as a college freshman and sophomore?

Green Bay has seen a severe level of inconsistency from Kentrell Brice after replacing Morgan Burnett, who was a versatile player in his own right while with the Packers. Brice’s struggles on deep pass plays down the field, along with the lack of trust the staff has in Josh Jones, make safety a priority for improvement. Factor in the inevitable loss of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix next offseason and the Packers are looking at a position that needs help in coverage this season as well as in the coming years. While the Packers arguably played Damarious Randall out of position during his time in Green Bay, they could avoid a similar situation early with King while Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson are in the fold.

A move to free safety would not restrict King from coverage responsibilities, of which he has been slightly above-average according to Pro Football Focus. In fact, King’s ball skills could be utilized heavily in coverage from the slot, with his 6-foot-3 height a good matchup against large receivers and tight ends. His tackling is adequate and, though his nagging shoulder and groin injuries are a bit concerning, King has shown physicality at times in run support despite a wiry frame. His 4.3-timed speed also could give him the long recovery ability to patrol the back half.

Furthermore, while relatively inexperienced, one-on-one press coverage has proven to be an issue for King when alone on the outside as seen in the videos below. His long arms would figure to give him help in press coverage, but too often he is caught flat-footed when not providing an initial bump at the line. King has enough talent to succeed at corner and has had his moments of standout play against top wide receivers like Julio Jones. But he remains very much a work in progress.

It would be a tall task to assume King would be ready for and capable of polishing a position change by the end of the 2018 season. It’s also difficult to see the Packers deciding to actually make a swap within its cornerback group that is routinely in limbo every season. Frankly, Josh Jones should be given first chance to show his worth after being picked just after King in the second round last season. But should King’s issues in man coverage persist over the rest of the season, he would make for an intriguing safety candidate. King surely would make for one of the most athletically-gifted safeties in league history, as seen in this link from MockDraftable.

If the Packers move forward with their two rookies and extend recent pickup Bashaud Breeland after the season, the Packers could have enough bodies to consider at least a few certain defensive packages for King at free safety. With decisions at the position already looming in the spring of 2019, King could be a dark horse name to keep an eye on.