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Could former LSU Tiger Arden Key unlock the Saints pass rush?

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Arden Key could be just what the doctor ordered to help the Saints on 3rd down.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Louisiana State vs Louisville Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

True sophomores aren’t supposed to dominate the SEC like Key did in 2016 when he tallied 25 combined sacks and hits. His off-field is obviously a concern, but when the only tackle to come close to slowing you down is former first-rounder Ryan Ramczyk, that’s special. – Pro Football Focus

The interest in Arden Key is real. It’s not a smoke screen and it’s not a chance to finally pick an LSU player to appease the masses. It’s legitimate interest in a talented (but troubled) prospect that could help improve the Saints 3rd down woes on the defensive side of the ball.

You don’t meet with a prospect a total of five times if you aren’t interested.

Unless, you are among the incredibly large group of people that thinks anything said this time a year is some type of misdirection or sleight of hand. In that case, sending scouts, coaches and/or a GM to watch guys you have no interest in picking for the sake of being coy is definitely not a waste of resources, time, and effort.

I digress.

So what about Arden Key? By all accounts, running a 4.89 at 235 is not a good look, and yet here is an opposing angle I take from that.

I’ve seen it mentioned that Harold Landry deserves an excuse for his senior year because his ankle injury sapped his overall athleticism, which is a big part of his game. Cool. I could agree with that, but doesn’t that suggest that Key has been beating OTs with much more than just athleticism this entire time?

If he was at 260-270 for the Alabama game (in which he was a pest), it means if you were to have that same player run a 40 and do all of the “underwear” stuff, then he’d probably test even worse than he did at 235?

Were all de powers of ze black panther suddenly stripped eway?

Or, is it more likely that Key has mastered certain techniques as a pass rusher that allow him to maximize whatever athletic talent he has?

Did coaches see a lack of effort on tape, or did they see a guy who was out of shape but still expected to play a high number of snaps? Is the player you got in the Alabama game the real Arden Key? Whatever issues he had that caused him to miss the season, are those behind him or will they reoccur?

Those are the questions the Saints need to figure out, but basing his ability off his athletic scores and then grouping him with other “misguided” players could be a surface level mistake that most fans and analysts make, but you’d hope the Saints brass doesn’t.

New Orleans appears to be doing their homework on Key, and I don’t blame them. The only thing with close to the same value as quarterback in this league right now is a legitimate pass rusher. And everyone I’ve spoken with has a lot of ranging opinions on Key, but they all agree he can get to the passer.

The Saints could use his services in 2018, and as Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton have alluded to on more than one occasion, “There are only so many pass rushers in each draft, and you hope you get a chance to select one.”

Poll

Should the Saints take a flyer on Arden Key in the draft?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Yes
    (447 votes)
  • 15%
    No
    (94 votes)
  • 12%
    Not worth the trouble
    (76 votes)
617 votes total Vote Now