Kuechly can be problem-solver in Carolina

PantherInsider.com
Posted Apr 27, 2012


The Carolina Panthers were thinking about trading down. At least until Luke Kuechly was on the board. The Panthers took the Boston College linebacker with the ninth overall pick, bypassing more glaring needs at other positions.

The Carolina Panthers were thinking about trading down.

At least until Luke Kuechly was on the board.

The Panthers took the Boston College linebacker with the ninth overall pick, bypassing more glaring needs at other positions.

"He was a guy that we knew, if he was there, he was the option," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "He's a smart, instinctive, explosive football player. He's a sideline-to-sideline tackler. He just has great football intelligence."

The Panthers think the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Kuechly can play all three linebacker spots, and there may be a need at two of them.

With weakside linebacker Thomas Davis coming off his third torn ACL, and middle linebacker Jon Beason recovering from a torn Achilles, the Panthers are hopeful but not certain about their health.

Now, after drafting the NCAA's leading tackler the last two years -- who set a record with double-digit tackles in 33 straight games -- the Panthers have cover if not more.

"He's one of those guys who makes the guys around him better," head coach Ron Rivera said.

Davis could be the first odd man out, though the Panthers could take advantage of his speed (if well) as a situational player. He took a huge pay cut to stay this offseason, and his medical file makes his situation tenuous.

Beason and strongside linebacker James Anderson also signed big extensions during the 2011 quick-strike offseason.

The most likely scenario might be Beason sliding to the weakside, with Kuechly playing the middle. Unless Davis proves to be trustworthy, they'd be the two in sub packages, as Anderson is not great in coverage.

Beason has gone along with but quietly resisted moves outside in the past. He sees himself as a true middle linebacker, and before the Achilles tear, his speed made him excellent in coverage.

The draft slot is Kuechly's second honor in Charlotte, as he won the Bronko Nagurski Award in December.

The Panthers will now hope to fill some pass-rush and cornerback needs in the second day of the draft. They have the 40th overall pick in the second round, but lack a third-rounder after last year's trade for tight end Greg Olsen. That's why they were thinking about trading back, but Hurney said once it became clear they'd have a chance at Kuechly, they didn't think about it again.



Related Stories
Where will Kuechly play?
 -by PantherInsider.com  May 4, 2012
NFL Combine: Kuechly Talks Instincts
 -by ScoutNFLNetwork.com  Feb 28, 2012
Road to NFL Draft -- Luke Kuechly
 -by ScoutNFLNetwork.com  Feb 22, 2012

PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION INCLUDES
> Members-only Forums
> Insider Information
> Free Agency &
   Draft News
> Expert Chats

Sign Up Today!

Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from PantherInsider.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Players to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite players. Click name to add to My HotList.
LB Luke Kuechly (profile)
[View My HotList]
Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Carolina
Football > St. Xavier HS > Alumni
[View My HotList]