Arden Key has had one of the most up and down roller coaster rides in recent memory. He went from one of the best edge rushers in college football to the 87th pick to the Oakland Raiders. How did this happen and why did the Bengals pass on him?
Arden Key LB from LSU, was arguably the best defensive player in all of college football’s 2016-2017 season. As a sophomore Arden collected twelve sacks which set LSU record in sacks for a single season. In 2017 he had limited playing time due to injury. He collected four in eight games.
How good was Key in 2016? He had the best PFF grade for any defensive player including Myles Garrett. He was not eligible for the draft but if he was he probably would be a Brown instead of Myles Garrett. He has one of the quickest first steps off the line. He is explosive and relentless to the Quarterback. The only weakness is his coverage game. Most edge rushers have that weakness.
In 2017 Arden Key went down with injury and slipped up in his game. He went from 240 pounds to 265 by the end of the season. There was a mystery to that. During the combine he was asked what his true nature of his absence was. He didn’t want to comment on the true nature. He did check into rehab during high school twice and rehab between freshmen and sophomore year in college. Before the draft it was finally known that he checked into rehab while injured and gained all the weight.
What does this do to a player’s character? Well he slipped way down in the draft. When healthy Arden Key is a first rounder and could have been a top ten. He battled adversity and won. At the combine he reported losing the weight and is now at 245. He is at his weight where he dominated. He had a well productive combine.
It was fitting that the coach that wanted to give him a chance to redeem himself was John Gruden and the Oakland Raiders. Since Mike Brown gave Marvin Lewis a two-year window to make things happen, you can’t help but notice players with off the field issues are slowly diminishing. That may have been the reason the Bengals passed on Key. Arden Key should have had a shot with Austin’s defense. He is healthy now and he has moved on.
Just to clarify in my last post. I was displeased with the Sam Hubbard pick. It would have been a good pick if they brought along Key on the next pick. Those two would be a force for the next five years.
Arden Key will win a starting position with the Raiders like he would have with the Bengals. Personally I believe the Bengals will say WHAT IF?