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Los Angeles Chargers rookie report card: Desmond King

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 03: DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns passes in the pocket as he is rushed by Desmond King #20 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the third quarter of the game at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 03: DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns passes in the pocket as he is rushed by Desmond King #20 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the third quarter of the game at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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In the fifth-round of the 2017 NFL draft, the Los Angeles Chargers selected defensive back Desmond King. Let’s take a look back at his rookie season.

King was the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back, in 2015. Though his interception numbers went down in 2016, it was still a bit of a surprise to see him fall all the way to the fifth round.

King didn’t disappoint for the Chargers, standing out right away in training camp. Quickly, it seemed the team would be able to use him all over the field as a cornerback or a safety.

King played in all 16 games for the Chargers during his rookie season, making the absolute most of his opportunities. Though my Rookie of the Year Award went to Austin Ekeler, you could certainly make the case that King was the team’s best rookie in 2017.

According to Pro Football Reference, King saw 716 defensive snaps on the season, or 68.3 percent of the team’s defensive plays. Only six players on the team were on the field more on the defensive side of the ball and King saw more snaps than any rookie — offensive or defensive —on the entire team.

He finished the season with 76 tackles, one interception and five passes defended. Perhaps his most impressive stat was the four sacks he racked up.

Rookie Desmond King now has four sacks on the year, tying him with Rodney Harrison (1997 and 98) with the second-most sacks by a defensive back in a single season in team history. Harrison tops the list with six in 2000. https://t.co/EMiAgxuONh

— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) December 10, 2017

As for his lone interception, during his college days, he returned an interception for a touchdown in three consecutive seasons. Guess what he did with the one he got in his first year in the pro ranks?

East English Village Prep alum Desmond King said his first interception would be a pick-six. There you go! pic.twitter.com/HI8zWrff9d

— The D Zone (@TheD_Zone) November 24, 2017

That 90-yard pick six helped put a nice bow on the Chargers’ 28-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

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Looking back on King’s rookie season, the Chargers should consider themselves fortunate to have found him with the No. 151 overall pick. When you consider the fact that the team has guys like Casey Hayward, Jason Verrett and Trevor Williams at cornerback, the Bolts have a wealth of talent at the position that most teams around the league can’t come close to matching.

But even with all of that talent around him, King still made his mark. He was even the team’s leading kick returner, averaging 20.7 yards per return.

He’s versatile with a tremendous ceiling, and the Chargers knocked it out of the park by getting a guy like this in the fifth round.

Grade: A

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