Green Bay will have several crucial games this season where individual matchups that will play important roles in the outcome of the match. We begin this Key Matchup series with King vs Evans.
During week 6, the Packers will travel to Tampa Bay. In that contest, there will be several important individual matchups. The one that we will focus on will be the cornerback and wide receiver battle between Kevin King and Mike Evans. The Buccaneers possess arguably the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. That means both Jaire Alexander and Kevin King will be tasked with difficult coverage assignments. Based on Mike Evans’ stature, it makes sense for Green Bay to have King cover him with his long frame.
Kevin King is entering a contract season and so far has shown mixed results in his young career. When on, he has flashed some shutdown corner qualities. King is on the bigger end for a corner and uses that size and length to smother opponents. He is also good at staying with receivers and getting his head around and finding the ball. In off coverage, King is great at driving forward, coming up and making plays on the football (5 INT in 2019). Furthermore, King is a willing tackler with solid technique. He looks to wrap up and attacks the bigger players low as he should.
However, when King is off, he struggles in man the longer the play goes on and can lose his footing. His game can get sloppy at times and his biggest problem has been availability because of injury. One thing about King though is he plays with the swagger you want from a cornerback and doesn’t seem to rattle easy. The Packers like to use his size to matchup up on opponents’ bigger targets.
Mike Evans is a top tier wide receiver in the NFL. He is a big play waiting to happen and has produced over 1,000 yards every year of his impressive career. For reference sake, A.J. Green and Randy Moss are the only other two receivers to achieve 1,000 yards in the first six seasons in the NFL.
How has he managed to be so consistent? Well, Evans makes his bread using his daunting size (6’5″ 230) and impressive catch radius. League-wide, he is one of the best at high pointing the football. For a man of his stature, Evans has excellent body control to work the sidelines. These basketball-like traits make him a dangerous red-zone weapon. Evans also possesses good speed and acceleration to go with his measurables. He is a bully and a matchup nightmare for most corners but especially the smaller guys.
It is difficult to jam Evans at the line of scrimmage and is a better route runner than given credit for. So far in his career, the Buccaneers have kept him lined up on the outside in order to use him to push the ball down the field. There aren’t many holes in Evans game but if there is one he isn’t the most sudden with his 230-pound frame.
More then likely the smaller, quicker Alexander will be tasked with covering Chris Godwin which will put King and Evans together most of the game. With Tampa Bay having plenty of weapons at Tom Brady‘s disposal King will likely be left on an island a lot. Coach Bruce Arians loves to sling the ball around so there will be a lot of action in this matchup. The Packers will show a lot of different looks but should remain consistent with having King covering Evans. Look for tight press at times along with off man and zone looks depending on down and distance as well as field position.
King wins if:
He can stay physical and sticky with Evans. King will need to be up on Evans all day in order to contest as many passes as possible. In off man or zone, King needs to read and react well and drive on the ball. Even if Evans hauls in some receptions, King still needs to be aggressive and challenge the catch. Most importantly, he needs to be in a position where he can get Evans to the ground immediately after making a catch. As the play extends or Evans works downfield, King needs to keep his feet and trust his instincts. Keeping a cool head and being pesky could be enough to hold Evans in check, which is a tough task.
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Evans wins if:
He does Mike Evans things. If he can get going early and burn King he might be able to get in the corner’s head. That could potentially lead to King playing off coverage more than needed. Being late and giving a little extra cushion would be all a player like Evans needs to abuse a defense. Also, if Evans starts fast it could force Mike Pettine to tilt extra coverage his way and open things up for other players.
Who has the edge?
The favorite has to be Mike Evans. He is an elite wide receiver that several excellent corners have failed to consistently cover. Many times, it takes help to stop a player of this caliber. However, Kevin King does have the size and style to be a menace for Evans. King doesn’t need to completely shut down Evans, but instead limit his production. Tight quarter battles will be the deciding factor in this matchup.
Thank you for reading this King vs Evans matchup preview. Keep an eye out on Full Press Coverage in the coming weeks for more great matchup pieces.
– Jesse Hall is a writer for Full Press Coverage Packers. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @hall_jhall1212 Follow @FPCoverage and Facebook. – Kyle Senra is the managing editor for Full Press Coverage Packers. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @nyama_ks Follow @FPC_Packers and Facebook.