2012 NFL Draft: What Seattle's Latest Plans May Reveal About Panthers, Kuechly

Anthony Rizzuti@@Anthony_RizzutiSenior Analyst IIIApril 6, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 09:  Mike Ball #5 of the Nevada Wolf Pack is pushed out of bounds by Luke Kuechly #40 of Boston College during the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park on January 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After hearing a multitude of first-round possibilities for the Carolina Panthers, we may now know who Marty Hurney and the rest of the front office are targeting in the 2012 NFL Draft

It seems Carolina is zeroing in on Boston College's Luke Kuechly with the ninth overall selection.

The speculation began a few weeks ago when Kuechly revealed that he did have a visit scheduled with the Panthers. The standout linebacker has since met with the team's brass, perhaps a strong indication of their draft plans.

The possibility of Kuechly becoming Carolina's first-rounder on April 26th then became a bit more realistic according to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller. The site's senior NFL draft lead writer reported the Panthers' strong interest in Kuechly on April 3rd via Twitter:

"One quick note on Kuechly to #Seahawks, multiple people have told us that the #Panthers LOVE him."

— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 3, 2012

Just hours after the tweet, I contacted Miller to receive further clarification. In response to the inquiry, Miller stated that he has been told by "multiple sources, inside and out of the Panthers' organization" that the front office does indeed like Kuechly.

(For more on this news, click on this link for my last update.)

But I digress to Miller's initial tweet on April 3rd. Besides "LOVE," the other key word in his report may be "#Seahawks." 

Kuechly performing at 2012 NFL Combine.
Kuechly performing at 2012 NFL Combine.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After losing David Hawthorne to the New Orleans Saints, the Seahawks' most glaring need sits at the linebacker position. And as a top-10 talent in this year's draft class, Luke Kuechly has to be the No. 1 target on Seattle's big board.

Seattle's recent plans, however, may reveal their doubt of even being able to snag the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Award winner. 

According to ProFootballTalk.com, the Seahawks are considering moving Pro-Bowl safety Kam Chancellor to outside linebacker. This potential move will hinge on the team's first-rounder.

If the Seahawks can take Kuechly, Chancellor will remain at the safety position. If not, they'll make Chancellor a linebacker and probably go with Alabama safety Mark Barron with the 12th overall selection.

Of course, the Barron scenario is speculation on my part. But if Seattle is currently pondering a position swap for a Pro-Bowl player, doesn't that indicate at least some sort of skepticism about them drafting Kuechly?

Do they somehow know that the Panthers will invest their first-rounder on the draft's top linebacker?

(The Kansas City Chiefs also remain a possible landing spot for Kuechly with the 11th pick.)

It has also been reported by Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline that the Seahawks are looking to trade down in the first round. If they are able to complete a trade-down, they would then target another Alabama product, Dont'a Hightower.

Hightower is widely considered the second-best linebacking prospect in the draft, right behind Kuechly.

By evidence of their latest rumblings, it appears the Seahawks do not expect to draft the Golden Eagle. 

So I'll ask again—does this reveal anything about the Panthers and Kuechly? Does Seattle think he'll be taken by the Carolina front office at No. 9?

After looking at the writing on the wall here, it certainly appears so.