The Oakland Raiders had one of the more controversial drafts in the league, in part because of their selection of Arden Key. Despite first-round talent, the LSU product dropped to the third round as teams were likely scared off by some red flags that were raised during the pre-draft process.

However, the Raiders’ need for a third pass rusher behind Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin was a strong driving force in the team taking a chance on Key despite those concerns.

“When Khalil got tired last year, who’s the third rusher?” Gruden asked per Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. “When Bruce got tired, who’s the third rusher? You’ve got to have at least three guys that can get after the quarterback because you win games with your fourth-quarter pass rush. You work 57 minutes to get a lead, and your fourth-quarter pass rush has to close the door down. So, we think Key can be one of those guys at the end of games.”

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Mack and Irvin were one of the better pass-rushing duos in the league as they combined for 18.5 sacks last season. But there was a significant dropoff behind them, which required them to play a lot more snaps.

Key certainly has the talent to become a big part of that Raiders edge-rushing rotation as Gruden envisions. After being out of shape during the 2017 season, he has looked more like the lean, mean defensive lineman who wreaked havoc in the SEC back in 2016 during Raiders camp. If Oakland can get that version of Key, Gruden’s big gamble on the youngster might just end up paying off in a big way.