Browns draft profile: Louisiana State DE Arden Key


LSU’s Arden Key came into the 2017 season with top-5 pick potential. Now, he seems to be an early day two pick for many teams. So what has scouts so worried about Key, if he really does have so much upside?

On April 29, 2017, the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft, Fox Sports released a 2018 mock draft. Number one overall to the New York Jets was Sam Darnold. Number two overall to the Cleveland Browns, Derwin James. At number three overall projected to the Los Angeles Rams, LSU’s Arden Key.

And what a difference a year makes.

Let’s analyze this pick, and why Fox took Key so highly.

"“The Rams haven’t given up on Jared Goff yet (though they probably should). So Key, the athletic pass rusher whom DC Wade Phillips will love as a Von Miller type, is the pick.”"

Again, what a difference one year can make. At the end of the 2016 season, Jared Goff was already considered a bust. Of course, we know that he threw for 27 touchdowns and 3,804 yards the next season.

Additionally, Key drew comparisons to Von Miller, one of the NFL’s premier defenders, a year before he even entered the draft. At 6-foot-6 and 238 pounds, Key has all the physical talents of a lethal defensive end. So, what happened? Let’s take a look at Key’s tape from this year.

Quickness and Burst:

One thing that Key does extraordinarily well is get off his blocker and get to the quarterback or running back. He had burst unlike any other athlete in college football in 2017, and the agility and quickness to back it up.

In one of Key’s best games, LSU faced Alabama, who would go on to become National Champions. Key recorded half a sack and eight total tackles, but he jumps off the page on nearly every single play.

Key flew around the field that entire game, and was constantly part of the plays. The stats did not show it, but Key made a great impact in a losing effort against the Crimson Tide.

Key showed off his supreme talent against Ole Miss, his best statistical game of the season.

That week, he recorded two sacks, as well as six total tackles, in a win over the Rebels. Ole Miss’ offensive line did not stand a chance against Key’s physical dominance. In the 40-24 win, Key shined as the leader of LSU’s defense.

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Clearly, Arden Key has all the physical tools to get it done. But, he strangely followed up a tremendous 2016 with…four sacks and 33 total tackles? What happened?

Lack of Production and Discipline:

One of the biggest drawbacks to Key is that, simply, he does not try in some situations. Key lacks the effort, motor, and discipline to truly shine as a top-tier defensive end.

During the 2017 season, Key failed to keep his weight under control. He once again lacked discipline throughout the entire year, and had a lackluster campaign in 2017 because of that.

Some plays, Key just looks lazy on the football field. He has all the physical talent in the world, and yet he squanders it. However, if he can mature and become more disciplined at the next level, he may be the steal of the draft.

So, should the Browns be interested in Key as a prospect? Only if they can be assured that he will be disciplined under Gregg Williams’s defense.

Next: Browns persuading Mayfield to attend draft?

If he does not mature, then he may as well be a wasted pick. And the Cleveland Browns simply cannot afford to have any more of those.