Why is cornerback one of the Packers' big needs? See Kevin King's final week

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If this is it for Kevin King with the Green Bay Packers, then the final few days of the season will serve as a microcosm for his four-year career with the team that drafted him with its top overall pick in 2017.

On the Friday before the NFC Championship Game, the cornerback was added to the injury report because of an issue with his back. Two days later, he got beat for a 39-yard touchdown with one second left in the first half and then was flagged for pass interference on the drive that allowed the Buccaneers to run out the clock.

That, in a nutshell, was King's career.

He missed 17 of his first 32 regular-season games because of a various injuries, including a shoulder problem that the Packers knew might be an issue even before they drafted him. He finally stayed mostly healthy in his third year, when he missed just one game, only to battle injuries again in 2020. In all, he played in 41 of a possible 64 regular-season games.

In terms of snaps, King barely played more than 50% of the time over four years. He played more than 800 snaps only one time -- in 2019 -- and was on the field for just 2,384 of a possible 4,420 defensive snaps in his Packers career. By comparison, fellow cornerback Jaire Alexander has played in 86.2% of the defensive snaps during his three seasons.

That, and the fact that King never developed into the top-tier cornerback that late general manager Ted Thompson projected when he traded out of the first round (passing on local favorite T.J. Watt) and took King at the top of the second round (No. 33 overall), likely means current GM Brian Gutekunst will be on the lookout for a new partner to pair with Alexander once King becomes a free agent next month.

In fact, cornerback could be the Packers' top priority in the draft. Gutekunst struck gold with Alexander, his first pick in the 2018 draft, and might need to do so again. ESPN's Todd McShay projected in his latest mock draft that the Packers would take UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson at No. 29 in this year's draft.

In all, the Packers used 32 defensive players during the 2020 season. Last year, in one of their healthiest seasons in recent memory, they needed only 25 players on defense -- down from 32 in 2018 and 30 in 2017. The spike this year was due to injuries and the COVID-altered roster rules that allowed for more movement from the practice squad to the active roster.

Below is this season's playing-time breakdown on defense (the offensive report posted on Tuesday). For comparison, last season's defensive snap totals can be found here.

Total offensive plays (including playoffs): 1,145

Defensive line

Outside linebackers/edge

Inside linebackers