GREEN BAY – The reception was shoddy at best inside the Bradley Center.
So while Kevin King watched Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks turn back the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Packers cornerback mostly was shut out from opening night of the NFL Draft.
At least until the updates started to flood in around him.
“A lot of the fans there recognized me and said it,” said King at Tuesday’s organized team activities. “Everybody around was saying, ‘You guys got him.’”
“Him” was Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander, whom the Packers selected with the 18th overall pick. A day later, General Manager Brian Gutekunst then used his second-round pick to take Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson to add to the position.
King is excited about the new acquisitions. The second-year cornerback felt the same way when the Packers brought back veteran Tramon Williams in March and re-signed Davon House on April 13. In his mind, the more, the merrier.
As last year proved, injuries can force NFL teams to entertain Plan B, C and D to navigate a season. King and the rest of the secondary hope the new additions help fortify a Green Bay pass defense that finished 31st in the NFL last season.
King, for his part, stepped up to the plate after the Packers selected him with the 33rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound cornerback started five of the nine games he played, covering the likes of Julio Jones, Dez Bryant and A.J. Green despite battling a persistent shoulder injury.
King sat out against Minnesota, Baltimore and Tampa Bay before finally traveling down to Birmingham, Ala., to undergo season-ending surgery with Dr. James Andrews in December.
Take a look inside Green Bay's organized team activities at Ray Nitschke Field. Photos by Evan Siegle, packers.com.
The Packers are being cautious with King during the offseason program, but the 23-year-old cornerback was on the field for the first public practice of OTAs earlier this week.
“I wasn’t worrying about it last year,” said King of his shoulder. “I wasn’t thinking about it too much. But I feel good. I went to the best surgeon in the world, Dr. Andrews. He got me right, so I feel good.”
With the shoulder shored up, King says he wants to harness the mental side of the game in Year 2. He’s been engulfed in the playbook of new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and spent extra time working with House and Williams after meetings.
The three have been attentive students in the classroom of defensive pass-game coordinator Joe Whitt. With House and Williams combining for 18 NFL seasons, King can think of no two better veterans to help him learn the position.
“Those guys are in the spots I want to be,” King said. “Just soaking in as much knowledge and as much information as I can from them. They know a lot about the game and a lot about how to do it at a high level for a long period of time. Besides the football stuff, they’re good guys.”
The Packers got off on the right foot in OTAs, with all five defensive backs who ended last year on injured reserve – King, Quinten Rollins (Achilles), Demetri Goodson (hamstring), Kentrell Brice (ankle) and Herb Waters (shoulder) – participating in Tuesday’s practice.
It all figures to add to the competition at the position this summer. Although it’s early, King likes what Alexander and Jackson have brought to Green Bay so far.
“Oh, I like them. They’re hungry. Good learners,” King said. “Of course, it’s the second day of OTAs so they have a lot (to learn), but everybody has that, everybody has a lot to learn. Everybody has steps to take in OTAs. That’s what OTAs are for.”