Packers 2018 draft prospect profile: LSU edge rusher Arden Key


We spoke to Tony Pauline of to learn more about potential Green Bay Packers first-round target, LSU edge rusher Arden Key.

Key announced on Thursday that he will forgo his senior season in Baton Rouge and enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Georgia native had a stellar career as a Tiger. He compiled 130 total tackles, 21 sacks and forced four fumbles during his three-year stint at LSU.

He finished his career tied for third in LSU football history with 21 sacks. As a sophomore, his 12-sack season put him atop the record books. That same year, he was voted first team All-SEC by the media and second team All-SEC by the coaches.

Injuries played a role in his final season and Key only played in eight games. He started the year on the sidelines recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and opted to sit out in the team’s bowl game against Notre Dame.

In addition, he battled through a knee injury and had surgery to repair his broken right pinky at the end of the season. His injury-plagued 2017 likely took him out of the top-10 in the draft, but he is still one of the top pass rushers available.

There are also concerns regarding Key off the field. In the spring he took a leave of absence and according to Ross Dellenger, LSU football reporter for The Advocate-Baton Rouge, Key has not be made available to speak to the reporters since December 2016.

Despite transitioning to linebacker under defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, Key is ranked as the fourth-best defensive end in the draft, per CBS Sports. 

I spoke to Tony Pauline to learn more about Key and his NFL potential.

What are Key’s strengths?

“Athletic, nimble and a natural pass rusher,” Pauline said.

“Quick off the snap, can bend off the edge, easily changes direction and pursues laterally with speed. Not just a straight line defender but fluid moving in any, every direction, playing with balance and body control. Has the ability to take over games when he hits on all cylinders.”

What are Key’s weaknesses?

“Off the field/personality issues may raise red flags. Pencil thin and all too easily locked up in blocks. Once blocked, stays blocked. Really needs a free lane to the action. At times seems to give up if the play is not in his immediate vicinity and gives half hearted efforts.” 

Key took a leave of absence this past spring, was suspended once in ’16 and hasn’t been made available to reporters since 2016. How concerned do you believe teams will be with these red-flags?

“These are all major issues that must be looked into- decision making off the field, injury history and personality issues will all be closely inspected at the combine to find out what’s real and what’s fiction.”

What position do you believe Key will have the most success in at the next level: LB or DE?

“Primarily a one-gap defensive end who’ll stand up over tackle on occasion.”

NFL comparison?

“From a glass half full point of view: Jason Taylor or Leonard Floyd….from a glass half empty point of view: Randy Gregory…”

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The Packers are in desperate need for an edge rusher that can wreak havoc. Green Bay finished last season finished 17th in the NFL with 37.0 sacks.

Too often, they were unable to get pressure on quarterbacks which led to extended drives.

No matter who becomes defensive coordinator, Key should succeed if he can stay healthy and clear from off-field issues.

He could easily go in the top-10, but don’t be surprised if he slips further into the first round because of uncertainties.

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His off the field issues likely rule him out in Green Bay, but with a new general manager coming to town it may be work the risk.