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Raiders Trade Up to Draft Arden Key in 3rd Round Despite Character Concerns

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2018

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Arden Key #49 of the LSU Tigers defends during a game at Tiger Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Former LSU edge-rusher Arden Key, widely regarded as one of the most divisive prospects in the 2018 draft class, is headed to the Oakland Raiders after being selected in the third round with the 87th overall pick.  

OAKLAND RAIDERS @RAIDERS

Another key on D. We have selected @ArdenKey, DE from @LSUFootball, with the No. 87 overall pick. #RaiderNation X #NFLDraft We have also traded the No. 89 and No. 217 overall picks. https://t.co/qyTSPcvF1U

Here's what Twitter had to say about the Raiders bringing in Key to play on the same defensive line as Khalil Mack:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The #Raiders trade up and grab talented #LSU pass-rusher Arden Key. A first-round talent, went to rehab voluntarily in college. They did a lot of homework on him. Feel comfortable.

Larry Holder @LarryHolder

You remember when Derrius Guice and Arden Key were supposed to be top 10 picks?

Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL

Raiders select LSU DE Arden Key with No. 87 pick. Moved up from No. 89. Cost a sixth-round pick (217 overall). On-field talent not the question for edge rusher. Off-field issues are.

NFL Draft Diamonds @DraftDiamonds

Raiders are really doing something good there. I love their draft. Two small schoolers and Arden Key in the 3rd?

Dennis Johnson @CoachDJ_

So proud of @ardenkey Keep grinding! #LSU Shine On!

EG 💭 @DreamandGrind

Congrats bro @ardenkey show them they slept on you .. 💯

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Arden Key has all kinds of red flags ... but serious pass rush potential as well. Quintessential Raiders pick

Michael Lombardi @mlombardiNFL

Paul Gunther has had success turning underachieving DL into great players. Arden Key is the next project and I think he might make it work.

Key was considered one of the top prospects in the class of 2018 entering his junior season after he logged a school-record 12 sacks as a sophomore. 

However, his stock started to slide last season because shoulder surgery and a knee injury limited him to eight appearances. All told, he managed four sacks and 33 total tackles, including 5.5 for loss, before declaring for the draft. 

On top of that, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein noted evaluators grew "worried about his personal discipline" when he stepped away from the team before the start of the 2017 season to voluntarily enter a rehabilitation program for marijuana use. 

"It was time to take time away from football," Key's father told the Advocate's Ross Dellenger. "He lost himself. He had so much success early. All the pressures of being a student-athlete. We forget he's still a kid trying to balance life out. It was all coming down on him."

Despite those hiccups, Key touts the speed and size (6'5'', 238 pounds) to wreak havoc off the edge in the pros and make his presence felt at a high rate, according to Pro Football Focus: 

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PFF College @PFF_College

LSU edge defender Arden Key brought in a QB pressure every 5.8 pass-rushing snaps across his career - to the tune of 140 career QB pressures https://t.co/tht6EbVKQ1

"Key has some similarities to Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Taylor," NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah wrote. "They have a similar frame/length and they both have great instincts as pass-rushers."

With the Raiders, Key should factor into the picture as a rotational edge-rusher as a rookie. 

Specifically, the LSU product should be thrust into action on obvious passing downs as a pass-rushing specialist who can bring pressure along with Mack, Bruce Irvin and the rest of the Raiders' edge forces. 

So while a starting role may be a year away, Key should make an immediate impact in some form or another as the Raiders eye a return to form following a disappointing 2017 season. 

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