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Ex-NFL defensive end: LSU’s Arden Key is best pass rusher in SEC in past 15 years

Arden Key LSU
STEVE FRANZ/LSU ATHLETICS

ATLANTA — Former Tennessee and NFL defensive end Chuck Smith is a personal pass-rush mechanics coach who is begrudging with his compliments.

He had 56.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons, including double-digit sacks in three seasons. Thus, when it comes to sacks, it pays to listen. So listen to this about LSU edge rusher Arden Key.

“Myles Garrett is not on this guy’s level when it comes to pass rush,” Smith told GN. “This guy is the best pass rusher in the SEC over the last 15 years. No one is even close.”

“… If he’s not the No. 1 pick next year? Teams are going to miss out.”

Smith said Key will be a 15-sack guy from “day one” in the NFL and that Key’s best position at the next level is as a 3-4 outside linebacker; that is the position he will play this season at LSU.

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Smith has worked with Key, an Atlanta native, for a few years, including this offseason. Smith also has worked with Von Miller, Derek Barnett, Jarvis Jones, Markus Golden, Osi Umenyiora and numerous other college and pro pass rushers.

“He’s got bend like Von Miller and a spin like Dwight Freeney,” Smith said of Key. “He knows how to do all the pass rush moves, why to use the moves, how to use the moves and he has edge speed. He can head fake you like Osi Umenyiora. That’s what makes him special. I guess the last thing that makes him special is he has that dog in him. That real dog, and he is hungry to be the best.”

Key took a leave of the absence during the spring for what was termed “personal reasons.” He returned to the team Monday but still is recovering from shoulder surgery, which could put his status for the start of fall camp in question.

Key has said on Twitter that he now weighs around 260 pounds he was listed at 238 by LSU last season. Despite the weight gain, Smith says there is nothing to worry about when it comes to Key’s speed.

“He’s still quick. He’s still moving. He’s actually quicker and just a little bit bigger,” said Smith, who thinks Key will play this fall at about 250 pounds.

RELATED: Offensive tackle depth has become a critical issue for LSU

(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)

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