(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2018 NFL Draft isn't until April 26, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is LSU's Arden Key.)
- Name: Arden Key
- Position: Defensive End
- Height/Weight:6-6 / 265
- Honors:First-team All-SEC as a sophomore in 2016.
- Key Stat:Key set an LSU record with 12 sacks in 2016, but he only tallied four sacks in eight games during an injury-shortened junior season.
Where He's Projected:
Most draft observers believe Key is a first- or second-round prospect based on his entire body of work at LSU. However, some teams might have concern about his commitment to football. Key reportedly took a leave of absence from the program last spring for an undisclosed reason. He had shoulder surgery prior to the 2017 season, too, and returned at a noticeably heavier weight that might have contributed to his decline in production as a junior.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
The Cowboys have taken steps to stabilize their pass rush this offseason, retaining Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence with the one-year franchise tag and placing the second-round tender on restricted free agent David Irving. But the club could look to add another pass rusher to develop along with last year's first-round pick Taco Charlton. From a pure talent standpoint, Key is widely considered one of the best options among this year's class of edge rushers.
- One of the most talented defensive players in this draft. If not for the off-the-field questions, he would likely be considered a first-round selection.
- When he's rushing the passer, Key can be a nightmare for offensive coordinators to have to deal with.
- Tall, long and rangy build gives him an advantage on the edge. Can make himself narrow to work around the edge.
- Doesn't provide much of a hitting surface when exploding off the ball.
- His weight tends to go up and down.
- Will need to become more dedicated and consistent in his preparation as a player. Right or wrong, he will be compared to Randy Gregory in draft rooms across the country.
- If you like the player, you better do your research because there is a lot there.