The Las Vegas Raiders added talent along the defensive line this offseason, and it meant the end of the Arden Key experiment in the Silver and Black.
In what would be Reggie McKenzie’s final draft with the Raiders in 2018, the Raiders, a team known to take a flyer on players deemed “developmental projects,” saw the athleticism and speed in Arden Key, and traded up to get him. Key, who was projected to be a first-round pick, fell in the draft process due to off-field concerns, including taking a leave of absence from the team in 2017.
Coming to the Raiders, Key never had any issues with his character, rather the issue with Key was his inability to stay healthy. In 2019, Key suffered a broken foot during the Week 9 victory against the Detroit Lions, and this injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
In the 2020 season, Key was placed on the COVID-19 list and was often on the injury list for several ailments from hand to foot issues.
Raiders done with waiting on Arden Key
While injuries hindered Key’s growth as a player, his inability to commit to tackles was essentially his downfall. Key has always had the speed and quickness to get to the quarterback, but his lack of discipline caused him to often miss his target, or he failed to tackle properly resulting in a big play.
Key had been involved in two plays in back-to-back seasons where his inability to capitalize on the sack resulted in a big play that ultimately lost the game for the Raiders. In 2019, Key broke free to sack Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, and instead kicked him in the eye before Watson was able to deliver the game-winning score.
In the 2020 season, Key committed a facemask penalty on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that resulted in a first down catch due to blown coverage by rookie corner Damon Arnette, which led to the Dolphins kicking a field goal to win the game and removed the Raiders from playoff contention.
Key is a talented player, who, placed on a team with the patience and guidance to teach him, can become a more polished player. But, unfortunately the experiment with the Raiders has come to an end, especially after the team added Yannick Ngakoue in free agency this offseason.