Prior to the 2017 draft, I posted an article on “What Constitutes Too Small for the NFL?” I analyzed Green Bay Packers players, past and present, who tended to tip the scales at under 200 pounds – the premise being that such players usually can’t withstand the physical demands of the NFL.
With Kevin King just going on the injured reserve list, it seems like a good time to revisit the discussion.
Limiting ourselves to Packers defensive backs of recent years, here’s the list, from lightest to heaviest – along with an indication of how healthy they’ve been while in the big leagues.
- Makinton Dorleant, 182 (177 in college) – Very injury prone
- Sam Shields, 184 – Injury prone, then an apparent career-ending injury in his seventh season
- M.D. Jennings, 187 – Reasonably healthy, but now out of football due to inferior play
- Herb Waters, 188 – Injury prone – will miss all of this year due to a knee injury
- Josh Hawkins, 189 – Healthy, but has had limited playing time in his two years in the league
- Quinten Rollins, 195 – Injury prone – missed five games in first two years, then placed on IR in October with a leg injury
- Jermaine Whitehead, 195 – Healthy, but has had little playing time in three seasons with three teams
- Damarious Randall, 196 – Injury prone – missed 11 games in first three years, on injury report three times in 2017
- Micah Hyde, 197 – Super healthy – missed one game in going on five years
- Demetri Goodson, 197 – Very injury prone
- Kevin King, 200 (6’3”) – Injury prone – on injury report six of 13 weeks, then put on IR with shoulder injury
- LaDarius Gunter, 201 – Healthy
- Jerron McMillan, 203 – Reasonably healthy, but now out of football due to inferior play
- LeRoy Butler, 204 – Healthy – more than three games missed twice in 12 years, but then a broken shoulder blade that did not heal properly forced him into retirement.
- Nick Collins, 207 – Reasonably healthy – missed three games in six years, then suffered a career-ending neck injury
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, 208 – Super healthy – No games missed in four years
- Morgan Burnett, 209 – Relatively healthy – from 2011-17, 14 games missed
- Charles Woodson, 210 – Relatively healthy – more than three games missed three times in 18 years
- Marwin Evans, 211 – Healthy – played in every game (special teams) in rookie year and so far in 2017
- Josh Jones, 220 – Healthy – Never on the injury report on this his rookie year
I could probably stop right here, as the above info strongly supports the premise that lightweight defensive backs are likely to have shortened or frequently interrupted NFL careers due to injury.
Of all the players on the above list, I can’t think of anyone with less bulk and muscle than Kevin King. The man is Ichabod-Crane thin, he’s leaner than premium bacon, he looks more like a distance runner than a football player.
At the NFL Combine, King absolutely excelled, scoring 72nd percentile or higher on nine of 10 ratings. On the 10th, however, King had a 21st percentile ranking – with only 11 225-pound bench presses. Ignoring my own advice, I celebrated the pick.
Yes, his weight of 200 pounds puts him at 79th percentile among cornerbacks, but that’s misleading. First off, I doubt the 200-pound claim. As a freshman at Washington, he was listed at 6’2” and 178 pounds. One can certainly add 22 pounds over four years, but if King has done so, where is it? He has pipe-stem legs, modest upper arms, and the abs of a Tommy Hilfiger swimsuit model.
As the 2017 draft approached, Pro Football Focus claimed: “(King) has prototype NFL size, speed and measurables.” I disagree. I would say the minimum desired weight for an NFL-caliber cornerback would be about 200 pounds for a six footer, 204 for 6’1”, 208 for 6’2” and 212 for 6’3”. King is the latter height, so even if we accept the 200-pound claim, that’s at least a dozen pounds lighter than optimal.
For a 300-plus pound lineman, a dozen pounds isn’t a huge deal, but for a typical cornerback, 12 pounds is the difference between spindly and splendid, bulimic and buff. If you want a CB built for the rigors of pro football, look no further than these Green Bay players: 5’11” 207-pound Nick Collins; 6’ 204-pound Leroy Butler; 6’1” 209-pound Morgan Burnett and 210pound Charles Woodson; or 6’2” 220-pound Josh Jones. And then there’s Josh Hawkins: though he’s short at 5’10”, he’s ripped and bulky at 189 pounds – and he showed it by doing 14 bench press reps at his pro day event.
As for recent Green Bay cornerback draftees, Josh Jones is the only heavyweight. Besides King, 5’11” Damarious Randell and Quinten Rollins are borderline lightweights at 196 and 195, respectively.
While there are no guarantees when it comes to player selection, smart teams play the odds. And the odds are that Kevin King, Damarious Randall, and Quinten Rollins are going to continue to spend much of their time with the team on the weekly injury report – if not on injured reserve.