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Edge rusher Arden Key declares for 2018 NFL Draft

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The 49ers pass rush was woefully inconsistent in 2017.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft is January 15, and some of the big names are getting their paperwork in this week. LSU pass rusher Arden Key is the latest, announcing on Twitter that he is leaving school to pursue the NFL.

The outside linebacker is a monstrous 6’6, and appears to have jumped from 238 pounds to 265 pounds over the past year. He had a slow start this season due to offseason shoulder surgery, but the pass rushing physical tools seem kind of ridiculous.

The 49ers desperately need help at edge rusher. They ranked 29th in adjusted sack rate, finishing 26th in total sacks (30). During the offseason, Daniel Jeremiah compared him to Hall of Famer Jason Taylor, saying “They have a similar frame/length and they both have great instincts as pass rushers.”

It’s safe to say most of us wouldn’t mind adding a Jason Taylor-like pass rusher to the 49ers burgeoning defense. He is projected in the first round, with some mocks considering him a top ten talent. Edge rusher is one of several needs for the 49ers, so a guy like Key is another option in what could be a fairly flexible first round pick.