First round pick Luke Kuechly has been wowing coaches and teammates since the minute he stepped foot on the Panthers training field this offseason. As the number 9 overall pick in the NFL draft, expectations have been high for the rookie linebacker, and thus far he has handled the hype and exceeded those expectations.
On the last day of minicamp, Kuechly intercepted a Cam Newton pass and brought it all the way back for a TD. This however is only an example of the kind of impression he has already made on his new team. What has coaches so excited is how quickly he has absorbed the new defensive scheme and acclimated to his new position at OLB.
A former Boston College student, Kuechly possesses the intellect as well as the physical ability to become a Pro-Bowl linebacker for the Cats. His instincts and knowledge of the game are talents that can’t be taught, and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has reported how excited he is to see him playing on Sundays.
Many Panthers fans, including myself, believed that defensive tackle and cornerback were the two positions that needed to be addressed early in the draft. I have to admit that at first I was skeptical of the Kuechly pick, but as the 2012 season looms closer I have come to realize that the front office chose the right player. Luke is a high-character playmaker at linebacker, and with the return of Ron Edwards at DT and the options of Brandon Hogan and rookie Josh Norman at CB, the Panthers have all the pieces to fix the defensive puzzle that plagued Carolina last season.