The Las Vegas Raiders chose defensive end Arden Key in the 2018 NFL Draft. Originally a third-round pick, the LSU product was touted as a sleeper selection. Two years later, he could be on the brink of not making the team.
Arden Key hasn’t turned into the player the Raiders expected
The Raiders 2018 draft class hasn’t brought the results head coach Jon Gruden surely expected in his first year back with the team. Left tackle Kolton Miller showed signs of encouragement in 2019 and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst has steadily improved. Nevertheless, it looks like the Silver and Black haven’t gotten the returns they expected.
The Raiders already cut second-round pick P.J. Hall. Allegedly, he was not in football shape and Gruden had just called him out. Key could be next in a group that has been more bust than boom.
The defensive end hadn’t been able to tune out the noise
To Key’s credit, he holds himself accountable for the shortcomings he has displayed in his NFL career. He let others take control of the narrative, and the fact he had to deal with injuries didn’t help the matter either. In a recent conversation the defensive end had with Tashan Reed of The Athletic, he opened up about the nuisances he has needed to face since he joined the Raiders.
It stems from what people were saying and people setting limitations on me. People were saying, ‘This guy needs to gain this weight to be able to play in the NFL.’ Me being hurt, it brought me back to going into high school.
Looking back, it doesn’t seem like Key had a sense of direction or a plan heading into the NFL. His shoulder injury also contributed to what seems to be a hectic period in his life.
I didn’t come into the NFL with that same fire under my belt, I wasn’t being me, I wasn’t the asshole that I normally am on the field.
When things go south, it’s normal to feel down. Key wasn’t any different.
I didn’t have that excitement or that energy that I bring to the field, I wasn’t challenging the O-line. I wasn’t challenging the coaches, I wasn’t challenging nobody.
It’s good to know Key acknowledge something wasn’t right. Now, he has to fix it.
What is next for Arden Key if he wants to stick with the Raiders?
Key needs to show the Raiders he’s worth keeping. It’s as simple as that. However, the circumstances surrounding the Silver and Black and the NFL will make his plea for a roster spot more difficult.
Without training camp and general manager Mike Mayock showing he isn’t afraid to release high draft picks, Key will have very little room for error. Regardless of how things play out, the defensive end says he will now do things “the Arden Key way.”
That’s the thing that I changed: I came in with problems coming out of college and I let that affect me when it came to trying to walk a straight line and trying to do everything that was asked of me. No, I’m not doing that no more. The sky is the limit for me.
On one hand, it’s great that Key is ready to leave all that emotional burden behind. On the other hand, that won’t account to much if he can’t show what matters the most: Results. We are encouraged to see that he third-year defensive end won’t limit himself anymore.
Nevertheless, it’s uncertain if he will be able to put his new mindset in practice. The Raiders signed Carl Nassib in free agency and he’s poised to be a key cog in the defensive line rotation. Furthermore, Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby are firmly entrenched as the starters.
Key’s addition in 2018 was interesting. Nowadays, not so much. More and more, Key looks like a member of a Raiders class that hasn’t paid enough dividends.
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Top Photo: D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press