As the list of early entries declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft continues to roll in (recently: quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold, as well as 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson (more on him in a bit)), some players will stand out more than others.
LSU outside linebacker/defensive end/edge defender Arden Key is one of those players:
As expected #LSU edge rusher Arden Key is leaving early & entering the 2018 NFL draft.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 4, 2018
Listed at 6-foot-6, 265-pounds, Key’s junior season was an injury-shortened one in which he came up with just four sacks in eight games. Key picked up a single-season school record 12 sacks as a sophomore in 2016 en route to earning first-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press and second-team all-conference from the coaches.
As for the Bears fit, it’s admittedly tough right now. The team doesn’t have a head coach or defensive coordinator, though Key’s athleticism and skill set could allow him to slide in as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker with ease. A player with Key’s talent and upside could use some proper instruction at the NFL level.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
You’re not alone if Key gives off some Leonard Floyd vibes. Though, all things considered, it would be nice to have a fearsome pass rusher on the other side of Floyd to harass opposing quarterbacks.
For what it’s worth, Chris Trapasso projected Key to be the top prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft back in June if he added weight to his frame and built on his first two years with the Tigers. Key did tack on 35 pounds from his listed weight of 230 last summer, but wasn’t on the field enough to see how that added weight would impact his game. How he bounces back from injuries and how he responds to his new weight in workout and combine drills could give us a better idea of where he ends up going in this draft.
And as for Lamar Jackson, well, when it comes to quarterbacks declaring for the 2018 Draft our thoughts our clear: the more the merrier.
We discussed this concept when Rosen and Darnold both declared, but, in short, given the presence of Trubisky, the Bears will not be taking a quarterback in the first round of the 2018 draft. And that means that the more top-of-the-first-round QB talents, the better. If teams picking in front of the Bears are taking QBs, there should be more position players available when the 8th overall pick rolls around. Alternatively, if these quarterbacks don’t figure to make it past the top ten picks (like some are projecting for each of Rosen, Darnold, and Jackson) desperate teams might pay handsomely to trade up to the Bears spot. So, as of now, you’re rooting interest is for plenty of high-quality QBs to declare. And so far, so good.