With the 2018 NFL draft in the records for yet another year, it’s going to be intriguing to see how many prospects prove to be a BOOM, not a bust.
The Oakland Raiders selected many prospects with different circumstances coming out of college, but one of the most intriguing recruits is Arden Key, formerly of LSU.
Key’s 2016 tape is nothing short of outstanding, showing his abilities as an elite pass-rushing threat from a defensive end position; unfortunately, in 2017 his level dropped for a variety of reasons, off-field issues being one of them.
But with the eighty-seventh pick in the 2018 draft, the Raiders traded up from pick eighty-nine to take Key, feeling that his level of production was worth the risk in round three.
Not only does Key possess the tangibles to be a successful rusher, but the Raiders desperately needed to get Mack and Irvin the support they need and deserve.
Gruden’s high praise of Key in a recent interview highlights that the Raiders feel they got excellent value where they took him. Via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area:
“Two years ago, his tape was unbelievable,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said last week after Key’s selection. “He was a heck of a football player. He gained 25 or 26 pounds – he bulked up. I think he tried to add a different dimension to his game size-wise. Perhaps it backfired, he got hurt and there were issues there. He underachieved his year, but I go back to the film two years ago – the kid is special – and I know the man that’s been training him.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in (defensive coordinator) Paul Guenther and (defensive line coach) Mike Trgovac. They’ve done this a long time, they’ve developed players like this.”
Clearly impressed with his new recruit, Gruden will expect Key to hit the ground running, providing that extra threat and really imposing himself on games, sending a message to the league that the Raiders now have a formidable pass rushing threat.
My own personal view is that if Key can keep himself focused, dedicated, and out of any off-field issues, he could be a top-level talent in the NFL.
But whatever the future holds for the Raiders and Key, in particular, one thing is certain: the franchise clearly wants to bring some silverware back to Oakland before they move to Las Vegas.
*All stats are via SRCFB