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    Kalen King’s Draft Profile | Penn State, CB Scouting Report

    Once viewed as an early-round prospect, where does Penn State's Kalen King now rank with his scouting report, and can he be an NFL starter?

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    Penn State CB Kalen King has lost momentum since being billed as a potential first-round pick before the 2023 season, but is his scouting report still worth considering in the early rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft? That’s what we’re here to discuss.

    Kalen King’s Draft Profile and Measurements

    • Height: 5’11 1/4″
    • Weight: 191 pounds
    • Length: 30 7/8″
    • Wingspan: 74 1/4″
    • Hand: 8 3/4″
    • Position: Cornerback
    • School: Penn State
    • Current Year: Junior

    While Joey Porter Jr. — the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft — was embarking on his statement 2022 season and attracting all of the 2023 NFL Draft hype, King was silently putting together an even better season on the other side.

    People take for granted just how dominant Penn State’s 2022 CB group was. Porter’s presence alone dissuaded QBs from targeting him, but across from him, King racked up three interceptions and 18 deflections when he was tested, and he also added three tackles for loss in support.

    A four-star recruit and two-time captain at Cass Tech High School, King was a prized member of Penn State’s 2021 signing class. He made an immediate impact as a true freshman and quickly blossomed into a legitimate NFL prospect in his own right.

    The departure of Porter put the spotlight on King in 2023, and the results were underwhelming. King was less productive and more volatile against NFL-caliber athletes, and in particular, his matchup against Marvin Harrison Jr. emphasized his non-elite traits.

    MORE: Top CBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

    Later, King continued to take his lumps at the Senior Bowl in 1-on-1s, and he ran slower than desired at the NFL Combine. At his pro day, he was able to improve his 40-yard dash time to 4.56 and logged a strong 4.13 shuttle time — but there are still questions about his ultimate ceiling.

    Does King have a future as a starting CB at the NFL level? What schemes would he fit into best, and could a position switch be on the horizon? Below, we discuss all of these topics.

    King’s Scouting Report

    Strengths

    • Feisty competitor who doesn’t give WRs an inch in coverage and makes himself felt.
    • Fleet-footed, quick-twitch cover man with exceptional corrective quickness and mobility.
    • Has the crisp fluidity to turn and run with receivers out of 90-degree transitions.
    • Boasts the swivel freedom, sink, and flexibility to adjust his hip leverage without delay.
    • Has enough explosiveness out of his stance to gravitate to WR hip pockets.
    • Smart zone defender who can carry and pass off routes using route identification skills.
    • Able to use pedal and throttle fluctuations to manage space while keying in on QB eyes.
    • Uses proactive physicality and hip alignment feel to stay overtop route stems in man.
    • Can corral and gather WRs outside with synergetic, successive punches and hip turns.
    • Patient and disciplined in press-man, using fast, adaptable feet as his technical bedrock.
    • Can transition seamlessly between shuffles, chop-steps, and matching footwork.
    • Tracks and high-points the ball easily and obstructs with authoritative full extensions.
    • Gets his eyes up and has a phenomenal sense of timing and coordination at the catch.
    • Surges downhill in support and is an impressively sturdy, reliable tackler for his size.
    • Has the versatility to play the slot or the boundary with his coverage variability.

    Weaknesses

    • Is around average size overall, with lacking frame density and length.
    • Lacking length at times limits his disruption radius when trailing receivers vertically.
    • Longer, stronger WRs can disrupt his timing at the catch point with targeted physicality.
    • Doesn’t have a quantifiably elite physical trait, which detracts from his ceiling.
    • Non-elite explosiveness can be exposed by superior athletes who are able to stack.
    • Doesn’t quite have the necessary long speed to minimize vertical separation.
    • Occasionally a bit uncontrolled at stems, and wasted motion can tug him past stems.
    • Patience can render him a step behind at the line at times, failing to react to releases.
    • Sometimes over-reliant on two-hand jams and grabs and can be susceptible to holding.
    • Will sometimes use over-zealous physicality past stems to compensate for lacking speed.
    • At times, lacks the strength to deconstruct blocks quickly and can be directed outside.

    Current Draft Projection and Summary

    King grades out as a fringe top-100 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, who could garner consideration late on Day 2 or in the early-to-mid Day 3 range.

    The biggest thing working against King, as it turns out, might be his ceiling evaluation, as opposed to any glaring flaws on the field. At 5’11”, 191 pounds, he’s around average size for a CB without quantifiably elite athletic traits.

    He has great agility, quickness, and fluidity, but his middling speed is a glaring flaw against superior athletes.

    Going further, King isn’t flawless on the operational side, and some technical deficiencies are exacerbated by his non-elite physical profile. He can be outmuscled in press-man, and conversely, he’ll sometimes be over-reliant on physicality at stems to keep WRs in his wheelhouse.

    King has fast feet, fluidity, reaction to stimulus, and targeted physicality to exhaust WRs of space. Meanwhile, in off-man and zone, he can use his keen eyes, throttle control, and spatial awareness to minimize opportunities. And at the catch point, he’s a natural playmaker.

    To top it all off, King is extremely physical and tenacious in run support as well, with the block IQ, combativeness, and sure tackling ability to be an asset there as well.

    Because King’s chief strengths are his quickness, fluidity, physicality, pedal in zone, and route recognition ability, it’s feasible to project a move to safety at the NFL level.

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    There, his non-elite matching athleticism would be mitigated somewhat, and he’d be able to play to his strengths as a route processor, a playmaker, and a feisty support presence.

    Ultimately, at the very least, King can be a versatile depth piece in a defensive secondary, and he could field starting reps in schemes that utilize more off-man and zone. That said, the best path forward for King may be a free safety role, where he can play fast and confident in space.

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