LSU’s Arden Key is coming off an enigmatic year in which the star pass rusher was in and out of the lineup because of injuries and other distractions.
Usually that’s a recipe for not getting much of a look in the NFL draft. But Key is an exception. As a sophomore in 2016, he recorded 11 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 11 games.
He was on the cusp of being a household name entering 2017, but he never put it together. For one reason or another, his junior season was a flop. He played in just eight games, recording 4 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss.
He decided to enter the 2018 NFL Draft despite the lackluster showing. The potential he showed as a sophomore in 2016 will get him plenty of looks from NFL scouts and executives. But first, he has to prove he has what it takes both mentally and physically to succeed at the next level.
NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah polled five league executives on the player in the 2018 draft who has the most riding on upcoming NFL combine interviews. Key was the only non-quarterback picked, and he was tabbed by two of the executives.
Here’s what they had to say:
Executive 3: “Key really needs to explain what happened last offseason and talk about where he is now. He was the biggest disappointment of the 2017 season.”
Executive 4: “People have to meet the person and see if he can explain everything that’s happened over the last two years. He needs to gain the trust of the decision-makers. When right, he’s a special talent.”
There’s a lot of reasons to think Key will blossom in the NFL, but there’s also some cause for concern. Teams will have to make sure he’s worth an early round pick before they stake their future on him.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen received two votes and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield received the final vote.
The 2018 NFL Combine will be held in Indianapolis from February 27 through March 5.