At points during his LSU career, defensive end Arden Key looked like a sure first-round pick with a good chance of being one of the first names off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Key’s final year in Baton Rouge saw him check into rehab, gain weight and then deal with a shoulder injury that limited both his time on the field and his productivity. All of that contributed to a drop into the third round before the Raiders snagged him with the 87th overall pick.
After being selected, Key acknowledged “football is not the question” and said that he’s a better person after dealing with his off-field issues last year.
“I know that I’m not a third-round pick,” Key said, via the San Jose Mercury News. “I’m a first-round talent. Top five. I went through some situations that caused me to be a third-round pick. I’ve learned from those things, and this is the consequence of me going through what I went through. I’m a better person now than what I was prior, and I’m just happy to be at the right place.”
Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Key is “not a finished product,” but that they feel it was “a gamble worth taking” after researching Key’s time in college. Key said he looks forward to learning from Khalil Mack to help make that gamble pay off for an Oakland team that needs all the defensive playmakers they can find.