Jeff Hafley on seventh-round pick Kalen King: ‘Really good football player’

Jeff Hafley’s description of seventh-round pick Kalen King following the Green Bay Packers’ rookie minicamp sure makes it sound like the first-year defensive coordinator thinks he’s getting a potential steal in the Penn State cornerback.

King, a 2022 All-American after defensing 21 passes, fell to No. 255 overall in the 2024 draft.

Hafley didn’t hesitate to lavish praise on the seventh-round cornerback.

“Really good football player,” Hafley said Monday. “Really good instincts. Played on the inside, played on the outside. He’s a physical guy, he’ll tackle. From watching his tape, he made a ton of plays with those instincts. Can play the ball down the field. Love the way he runs and hits. Not sure why he fell like he did.”

A disappointing 2023 season in which King produced only two pass breakups and zero interceptions and struggled in several key matchups helped tank his soaring draft stock. When he ran 4.61 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, King’s stock hit rock bottom.

The Packers were still surprised he was available in the seventh round. King is now certain he’ll have a permanent chip on his shoulder entering the NFL.

“At this point, it doesn’t matter where you’re drafted anymore. It’s what are you going to do moving forward? He has an opportunity here to do that,” Hafley said. “In the little we saw of him this weekend, really glad he’s here. As you can see, he’s probably got a little chip on his shoulder coming in…go make the most of what’s ahead.”

Asked about examples of a player taking advantage that he could remember, Hafley immediately brought up K’Waun Williams, who went from tryout player to starting nickel. King lined up as the slot at times during rookie minicamp.

Can King bounce back from a difficult 2023 season, stay motivated from his draft fall and carve out a spot on the Packers cornerback depth chart, which currently features five players — Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Keisean Nixon, Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine — who have started games for the Packers?

“I think our league has a long history of guys who felt they were overlooked and use that as motivation to drive themselves. Hopefully, that’ll be the case,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “Certainly, he was a guy that we expected to go higher, and as we went through it, we felt very fortunate to be able to pick him where we did. He’s got a really nice skill set. Has played some high-level football at Penn State. He’s got some versatility to play outside and to play nickel as well. And again, I think his best football is ahead of him as well. He’s a young player. He was a three-year player coming out. So, hopefully, that does drive him. We’re going to have a very competitive secondary right now and I feel really good about that and it’s going to be fun to watch those guys excel.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire