While playing in only four games Key flashes the potential you want to see from a rookie pass rusher. Although he remains without his first NFL sack, watching Key’s tape leads you to believe it is a matter of time. Like it or not, the perimeter pass rush falls upon the rookie. The Raiders need patience.
In watching Key’s tape, the first thing you notice is that while he has the athleticism to shoot into the backfield, he takes a methodical approach Key shows awareness and patience letting the runner come to him before shedding the block to help make the stop. One of the big questions with Key was whether he would be able to hold his own against the run.
In the game against Denver, Key makes a number of plays and comes very close to getting his first sack a couple times in the game. While much has been made about Key’s elite athleticism, his first step makes him a threat every down. One of the aspects of Key’s game that I am already starting to love is the way he shoots the gaps he’s explosive in hitting the holes and when the Raiders pass rush gets better it’s going to give teams fits.
As we look at the areas where Key will have to grow. Key will have to spend some time in the weight room, as he came in at a light 238lbs. That remains far from where the Raiders would ideally like him. In comparison, Bruce Irvin weighs 250lbs. I’d expect that the staff will have him bulk up this offseason and his gains could be important as one of the takeaways in watching Key is he will have to get stronger at the point of attack.
One of the things that has me excited about Key is his awareness rookies hardly have the level of awareness Key is showing early on. In the game against Miami, he disengages from Tunsil and uses his length to reach and help make a stop. The last thing that really has me excited about Key is that he has the drive to be great. In a league where everyone has talent players have to have an enormous amount of drive to succeed.
Key has already shown that as he spent some of his offseason training with Von Miller and it seems to have given him the jumpstart in his development. As long as he can stay out of trouble, Key is going to develop into a good player for the Raiders. In addition, Key showed great restraint.
Additionally, Key’s last game provided a look into his positives and negatives. While he misses on Nick Chubb’s touchdown run, Key managed to put heat on Baker Mayfield often. While his stats may not reflect his impact, Arden Key gives the Raiders a player worthy of intensive development.