The Green Bay Packers added 11 players in the 2024 NFL Draft last week. But of all the newcomers added to the roster, the last one selected may be the biggest steal. That would be former Penn State cornerback Kalen King who was selected with the 255th pick in the seventh round of the draft, just two picks ahead of Mr. Irrelevant, the final selection in the draft. Here is why King could be the steal of the draft for the Packers.

Why Kalen King Could be the Biggest Steal of the 2024 Draft for the Packers: King’s College Career

King started for two seasons at Penn State. Unfortunately for him, his better season came in 2022, not 2023. In 2022, he led the Big 10 in passes defended with 21. He intercepted three passes, forced one fumble, and had three tackles for loss. He was also solid when making plays against the run. Most scouts believed King would be one of the top cornerbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, 2023 didn’t turn out the way King and the scouts expected. His performance in coverage regressed and suddenly, King went from being an expected first round pick to one of the final three selections in the 2024 Draft.

King took his regression in the draft as a challenge. “I felt like it put a chip on my shoulder, a permanent chip on my shoulder that I gotta keep there,” King said after he was finally selected. “I felt like the Packers are going to get one of the most competitive guys in the country, a tough corner, physical corner who’s going to give 100% effort around the field at all times and make as many plays as I possibly can by doing it at 100%.”

He is confident he can use it as motivation to make himself a better player.

Why Kalen King Could Be the Biggest Steal of the 2024 Draft for the Packers: What Other People Are Saying

King was not the only NFL player who felt that he was overlooked in the NFL Draft and selected too late. Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed, who played his college football at Michigan State and faced King when he played at Penn State tweeted this when the Packers added King in the late seventh round:

“Bro ain’t no seventh rounder.”

Reed obviously faced King in 2022 when he was playing his best football and didn’t face him in 2023. Still, Reed went head-to-head with King and is well aware of what his new teammate is capable of.

In the 2022 game when the two teams played each other, King broke up five passes, made four tackles and intercepted a pass as Penn State beat Michigan State 35-16.

New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner grew up in Detroit and played in the same conference with King in high school. He tweeted out, “Ya’ll sleepin’ on Kalen King.”

Of course, the compliments from former opponents and friends only speak to King’s potential. Now he needs to prove he can play more like he did in 2022 than in 2023.

The Packers Have Done This Before

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has selected players who exceled earlier in their college careers but struggled in their final year in school. Quarterback Jordan Love had a better year at Utah State in 2018 than in 2019 when the Packers selected him in 2020. A coaching change and the departure of many of his best receivers contributed to the drop in his production.

Last year, Gutekunst selected wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks in the fifth round. Wicks caught 57 passes for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 at Virginia. His production dropped to 30 catches for 430 yards and two touchdowns in his final year in college. While missing four games contributed to the drop in production, Gutekunst saw the potential based on his previous season’s statistics and film and took a chance on him on day three. Wicks had a promising rookie campaign with the Packers last year.

Now the Packers hope they have found another diamond in the rough in King. With good coaching and little pressure, the Packers hope he can return to the form he showed in 2022 and play with a chip on his shoulder to prove the doubters wrong. If he does, he could be the steal of this draft for the Pack.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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