LSU’s Arden Key called one of biggest ‘boom-or-bust’ prospects in draft

Arden Key
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

LSU edge rusher Arden Key was at the top of a lot of draft lists at this time last year. Now, Key is being called one of the biggest bust prospects in the 2018 NFL draft.

NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter lists Key No. 2 among the 10 biggest “boom-or-bust prospects” in the draft, behind only Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen.

Rueter points out that Key had 16 sacks in his first two seasons at LSU and touts his length, power and speed. But he also notes that scouts “have questions about the leave he took from the team (in the spring of 2017) and the consistency of his effort.”

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Key had four sacks in eight games in 2017, a season in which he was returning from shoulder surgery. All four came in SEC play, with two coming against Ole Miss, one against Auburn and half-sacks against Mississippi State and Alabama.

Indeed, Key’s best game came against Alabama, when he had eight tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Considering Alabama had the best line in the SEC, that was a noteworthy performance.

Rueter is not the only one questioning Key. One unidentified NFC director of scouting had an unflattering description of Key.

“You come back to the old question of what will a player do with more time and more money as a pro,” he told NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. “Key’s background tells you it could be a big problem for him. Not only that, but he had seven sacks over the last two years where he didn’t have to beat the tackle.”

Zierlein wrote that while there are red flags for Key, “a strong combine performance could go a long way in getting his draft stock back on track.”

The NFL Scouting Combine begins Tuesday.

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