Lawrence Keys - BK

Lawrence Keys - BK

Ranking The Irish: #22 - WR Lawrence Keys III

Notre Dame junior receiver Lawrence Keys III needs to be a key figure for the Irish offense in 2020
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The Top 25 players for Notre Dame in 2020 now heads to the offense, as we spotlight the No. 22 player on the list, junior wide receiver Lawrence Keys III.

This analysis for the Top 25 Irish players is a combination of talent, expected production, importance of that player’s role and also the value the player brings. The value aspect includes the position played and also the depth chart, meaning who can the Irish least afford to lose.

Let's look at why Keys is a valuable player for Notre Dame:

MAKING THE CASE

Keys is an intriguing player. He’s not your typical Notre Dame receiver recruit in that he lacks the size the Irish staff has preferred the last decade. What he brings to the game is a savvy all-around skillset and explosiveness.

The New Orleans native has well above-average speed, having timed in the 4.4 range during his time at Notre Dame, and he gets to full speed in a hurry. His long speed is good, but what really makes him the most difficult to defend is his foot quickness and agility, which combines nicely with his speed to allow him to play very fast.

Keys has a strong feel for how to get open, and he came to Notre Dame with an advanced feel for route running and working into open zones. His game is ideally suited for the slot, but the biggest play he made last season (vs. Georgia) was on the outside.

His skillset is unique on the current roster, and even more so now that Chris Finke is gone. Keys has the physical tools and mental acumen to be a nightmare matchup in the slot. Bigger players (linebackers) will struggle to handle his speed and elusiveness, and he has the speed to outrun defensive backs across the field. Keys has strong hands and is a willing blocker, so there isn’t anything he can’t do in the slot.

He brings some after-the-catch ability to the offense as well, but his ideal role is one where he is using his speed and route-running to do work before the catch. Keys showed toughness with making contested catches in limited opportunities last season, and if given more opportunities this season he will be a difference maker for the Irish offense.

To read a full analysis of his skills read the preview I did on him this summer. You can find that HERE.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

One thing Keys has working against him is Notre Dame’s desire to have bigger wide receivers on the field. There have been dynamic smaller wideouts at Notre Dame (Will Fuller, TJ Jones), but by and large the Irish have shown a preference for bigger receivers, if one exists at a position.

From talking to sources, grad transfer Ben Skowronek was immediately placed onto the first team and Keys has been with the second unit initially, and then he’ll work in a bit with the first team. There’s really nothing Keys can do about the desires of the staff, and we’ve seen that in the past. What he needs to do is maximize the opportunities he does get, especially early in the season.

Consistency in practice and in games will allow the staff to gain more confidence in Keys inspite of him not having their desired trait, and that should result in him getting more playing time, which gives him more chances to make more plays.

Skowronek is a solid, savvy player, but he’s not a game changer. Keys can be a game changer, but he needs to force the staff to put him on the field. Part of that is going to be staying healthy and staying on the field.

Keys has a chance to be a playmaker for the Irish offense this season. The biggest question, 

Note: All video and highlights are provided by Notre Dame Athletics.

Past Breakdowns:

#25 - Third Linebacker
#24 - Kurt Hinish, DT
#23 - Jonathan Doerer, PK

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The Top 25 players for Notre Dame in 2020 now heads to the offense, as we spotlight the No. 22 player on the list, junior wide receiver Lawrence Keys III.

This analysis for the Top 25 Irish players is a combination of talent, expected production, importance of that player’s role and also the value the player brings. The value aspect includes the position played and also the depth chart, meaning who can the Irish least afford to lose.

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