Panthers draft LB Luke Kuechly

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    Analysis

    Kuechly had one of the most productive careers, in terms of tackles, in recent memory for a collegiate linebacker. Twelve tackles for loss is a testament to his overall ability and instincts to get in the backfield. He is more of an athlete than given credit for and has simply been a machine throughout his college career. Kuechly has all the tools to be an immediate starter in the NFL and shore up the middle of a defense.

     

    Strengths

    Kuechly is one of the most instinctual and technically sound linebackers to enter the draft in years, and he had the tackle production throughout his career to back it up. He is able to avoid trash at his knees and is elite when it comes to shedding blockers and keeping himself free to the ball. He is excellent working over the top of tight ends to maul and delay their release, and is capable of running with them down the field. He has the sudden burst and long speed to cover a very wide range against the run and is an extremely sure-handed tackler.

    Weaknesses

    The major knock on Kuechly is that he had a lot of “inflated” tackle production in college: i.e., most of his tackles came five-to-eight yards downfield. He didn’t get up into the line of scrimmage to make powerful, impactful plays much, and won’t be relied upon as a pass rusher at the next level, where he’ll be strictly a tackling, sideline-to-sideline backer.

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