INDIANAPOLIS — Need strong coverage skills? Check.
Need a strong tackler? Check.
How about special teams abilities? Check.
Desmond King appears to check all the boxes at the cornerback position.
And, if Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo's prediction comes true, then King could be doing all of the above, and more, for the Colts beginning in late-April.
In his most recent mock draft, Palazzolo believes the Colts will be taking King with their first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft. You can see Palazzolo's entire first-round mock draft by clicking here, but here's what he said specifically about King and why he's a good fit in Indy:
And yet another cornerback (this wasn't on purpose), as the Colts could go a few different ways here to shore up their defense, but adding perhaps the best zone cornerback in the draft is a strong way to go. King is excellent at understanding route concepts and making plays on the ball and his three-year grading is as good as any cornerback in the country. He complements his ball skills with strong tackling as he's missed only 24 of his 191 attempts over three years and he'll be an asset to a Colts defense that needs talent in multiple places.
Palazzolo at first is referring to a multitude of talented cornerbacks that he expects to be taken off the board in the first round of this year's draft, including King, Cordrea Tankersly, Sidney Jones, Jalen Tabor, Marshon Lattimore, Marlon Humphrey and Jourdan Lewis.
And there's even more, as WalterFootball.com's Charlie Campbell, in his mock draft, has the Colts taking Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson in the middle of the first round.
So in a draft so stuffed full of talent at the cornerback position, what exactly does King bring to the table that makes him the right guy for the Indianapolis defense?
Well, first off, he's a guy that made plays seemingly week in and week out since his freshman season in the tough Big Ten Conference, finishing with 263 total tackles (9.5 tackles for loss), 47 passes defensed, 14 interceptions (tied for the fourth-most picks in school history), three defensive touchdowns, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
After a 2015 junior season that saw him pick off a school-record eight passes, King was named the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the top defensive back in college football.
King — who stands at 5 foot 11 and weighs 200 pounds — also served as the Hawkeyes' primary kick and punt returner his last two seasons.
Perhaps his best trait on the field are his ball skills, which got this review from his draft profile on ESPN.com (ESPN Insider access needed to read the entire thing):
Elite ball skills. Attacks the ball as if he's the intended target. Takes good angles and times jumps effectively. Strong hands to make contested catches. Consistently looks to high point. Also has been reliable fielding kickoffs and punts in the return game.
After addressing the offensive line in last year's draft, it's worth wondering if the Colts will really address its defense, particularly in the back end, this year.
At the cornerback position, specifically, the team is set to return its top two players at the position from the 2016 season in Vontate Davis and Patrick Robinson (who ended the season on IR). Others, like four-year veterans Rashaan Melvin and Darryl Morris, late-season signee Charles James II, as undrafted rookie Christopher Milton, could also be back on the offseason roster.
But the team will likely see productive veteran Darius Butler hit the free agent market, so continuing to build depth could be a major point of emphasis.