I've had more than a couple people in the last few weeks ask about Rams CB Justin King. Is he ready to play? Can he be the starting CB? Are we counting on him?
Let's back up a minute. A Penn State product, King was drafted as a junior by the Rams in the fourth round of last year's draft. A junior? Let me explain. He actually graduated from college in three years, so his early is a little different than other picks coming out early for the draft. His speediness with books may have hurt his draft status because a lot of people felt like he could have been a first round pick with another season at Penn State.
But he didn't and the Rams scooped him up with their fourth round pick. King's a speedster, and running a 40 in 4.31 seconds made him one of the fastest CBs in the draft. Just how fast is he? Watch this video of King running down Illinois RB and Steelers first round pick Rashard Mendenhall...from behind. Besides his speed, he's known as a smart player. Like the Rams other picks from last year's draft, King is a high character guy - you have to be to graduate in three years.
With Fakhir Brown injured early in camp last season, King saw more reps than the team had probably planned, and he made the most of his opportunity. No rookie from the '08 draft class got as much praise as King last summer. It was enough to get everyone excited, burning reports of King's performance into the heads' of fans so used to mediocre play in the backfield. And then someone stepped on his toe, literally, sending him to IR and ending his rookie season before it really got started. Even on his profile page at the official Rams site, they have to use to a picture of him in his practice duds.
By all reports, King is recovered and ready to go; he was at full speed for the team's minicamp earlier this month. Before you pencil him in as the starter opposite Ron Bartell, a note of caution. King impressed, true, but high hopes aside, let's not forget that he has yet to play against NFL-level competition. He has to come to camp this year ready to do it all again, start from square one as though the Rams just drafted him.