Schwartz: Desmond King’s Star Continues to Rise

August 15, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye Nation

Today’s column is short and sweet, and it focuses on something that someone said four weeks ago. It’s not a gotcha. It’s not trying to create drama. It’s just something that’s been on my mind and needs to be discussed before we can get on with the college football season.

It came from Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City cornerback, who was appalled by a couple of the ratings in Madden NFL 20.

Said Mathieu: “Desmond King … should never be under 93. Period.”

Kudos to Honey Badger for stating what Hawkeye fans have known for years and that the NFL is finding out. King, who earned All-Pro status last season, an honor superior to making the Pro Bowl, somehow slipped to the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. 

That’s old news. Old news that continues to supply new headlines. On Monday, Forbes, an authority on all things financial, named King the NFL’s best bargain at cornerback.

Wrote Bill Huber: “King has been nothing short of spectacular. … His cap charge for 2019 is merely $715,000.” If you can get past the fact that the word “merely” is in front of “$715,000,” you’ll enjoy knowing that there are cornerbacks in the NFL nowhere near as productive as King who make 10 to 20 times his salary.

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King won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation’s top college defensive back. Then he committed one of society’s deadliest sins: he chose education over a giant paycheck. I was among those critical of his decision to return to Iowa for his senior season, not because I’m anti-education – heck, I teach – but because I have a long history of imploring college football players to get the money while it’s there because of the massive injury risks posed by the game of football. In fact, the first column I ever wrote for Hawkeye Nation years ago was about this subject.

Football is a health hazard. Get your money before football gets you.

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Thankfully, King escaped his senior season with his health intact. He graduated, but scouts and pundits pounced. Every snap was an excuse to overanalyze his game. He’s too small … he’s not fast enough … he’s not strong enough.

The broadcaster Dan Patrick has pointed out for years how college football players get picked apart when they stay one year too long, and he’s spot on. Just watch their game tapes, he says, and forget about the damn combine.

So here we are, a few weeks ahead of King’s third NFL season, and we’re getting columns like this one from fan-site Fansided begging the Chargers to sign King to a lucrative long-term deal or risk losing him.

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As a Hawkeye fan, it was frustrating to watch him fall in the draft. As a Hawkeye fan, it’s a thrill to watch him soar as a pro. The cherry on top was knowing years ago what it took the rest of football a few extra years to figure out: King is a star.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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