2020 NFL Draft: Don’t sleep on Houston quarterback D’Eriq King

With the 2020 NFL Draft still 10 months away, it is never too early to start looking at potential risers and Houston quarterback D’Eriq King could be that.

The quarterback class in the 2020 NFL Draft is widely considered is a deep and highly anticipated group of young gunslingers. Guys like Heisman Trophy runner-up Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Oregon’s Justin Herbert lead the way of the class while Washington’s Jacob Eason and Utah State’s Jordan Love are not far behind.

It is only the offseason, but it is never too early nor too late to add another guy to this list. Do not sleep on Houston quarterback D’Eriq King as a potential riser in this draft class and even as a Day 1 or early Day 2 pick.

While King is a relative unknown at this point in the offseason and the season has not started, Baker Mayfield was considered a Day 3 pick and Kyler Murray was too small and just waiting to play baseball. The NFL is moving towards a spread style of play, guys like King may be looked at as a luxury in certain offensive systems in this league.

Watching four games of King’s from 2018, he has areas of his game that will make the viewer’s jaw drop and there are other areas that may cause a massive cringe. Here is a player profile and report on the Houston gunslinger entering the 2019 college football season.

Player Profile: QB D’Eriq King, Houston

Year: Senior
Height: 5-11
Weight: 195 pounds

2018 Stats

63.5 percent completion rate
2,982 yards passing
13.6 yards per completion
36 touchdown passes
6 interceptions
167 quarterback rating

674 yards rushing
6.1 yards per carry
14 rushing touchdowns

2018 games watched

Texas Tech (Sept. 15)
L 63-49
30/51, 431 yards, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
47 yards rushing, 1 touchdown

Tulsa (Oct. 4)
W 41-26
19/27, 165 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
117 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns

University of South Florida (Oct. 27)
W 57-36
28/40, 419 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
132 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns

Tulane (Nov. 15) – Left hurt in third quarter
W 48-17
11/15, 82 yards, 1 touchdown
82 yards rushing, 1 touchdown

D’Eriq King (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Strengths

King thrives in his pocket awareness, whether that is climbing the latter and stepping up into the pocket, or knowing when to bail, his internal timer is proficient. In addition, King has a handful of reps where he is able to get out of the pocket before resetting his feet and firing the ball downfield. This part of King’s game is quite Russell Wilson-esque. His escapability is right up there with that of Tagovailoa.

Waiting for his receivers to clear into open throwing windows, King does not panic and keeps his feet active in the pocket before firing across the middle. Most of King’s reps come out of the Run-Pass Option attack, which has made him efficient and accurate on dump offs and short quick hits over the middle of the field.

When looking at arm strength, the only boxes that need to be checked are: can he get the ball to the wide side of the field and can he get the ball down the field. King checks both of those boxes. For being just listed at 5-11 — though he’s more than likely smaller — King has adept arm strength, signified by his deep ball and his darts to the wide side of the field. He can straight-up sling the rock.

On throws that require a bit more air and pop, King will sometimes throw his body into it, but frequently will set his feet and with just one step launch the ball down the field. On such throws, King has displayed great accuracy in the games watched to drop the ball onto his receivers with good-to-great accuracy.

Where King excels are on his back-shoulder throws and on goal-line fades, putting the ball between his receiver and the sideline so if the throw is off the ball is not in danger of bouncing into the middle of the field; these throws King makes are no joke. He gives his receivers the best opportunity to high point the ball and threw more than just a handful of touchdowns in the back corner of the end zone.

Weaknesses

King also has some glaring weaknesses that will need to be improved upon in 2019 as his name is starting to gather more steam towards the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are some areas of King’s game to watch closely for this season in hopes that he takes his game to the next level to compete with the likes of Tagovailoa, Herbert, and Fromm.

As previously mentioned, Houston runs an up-tempo RPO offense, which requires a ton of one-read, quick hits. King, while he threw only six interceptions, had a tendency to try to fire into tight windows, sometimes leading to bad interceptions.

While he may be able to get away with it at the college level, King throws high across the middle, leaving his receivers in a defenseless position. Yes, King has the ability to escape the pocket with ease when he senses his timer going off, but his ability to throw on the run and while under pressure is suspect.

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These weaknesses of King’s game are few, but the struggles he does have are big ones that will impact his draft stock significantly. King must get better at making throws under pressure and while on the run, he must also fine-tune his game over the middle as to not get his receivers killed.

King is still an early-riser on draft boards and there is no guess as to where his draft stock lies at this point. However, quarterbacks have risen up draft boards later and quicker than King, so he is an interesting prospect to watch throughout the 2019 season.