Luke Kuechly: 5 Reasons the 2012 NFL Draft Prospect Will Succeed in the Pros
Luke Kuechly is the No. 1 inside linebacker on my board for the 2012 NFL draft.
However, it is pretty close, with Dont'a Hightower and Bobby Wagner—who I have translating better on the inside—not that far behind.
While the Boston College product doesn't possess the upside that some of the other prospects at this position do, he is already a damn good football player.
Here are five reasons why Kuechly is going to succeed in the National Football League.
5. Sure Tackler
It may seem elementary in the grand scheme of things, but tackling is the most important aspect of defense in the National Football League.
While this goes without saying, certain teams just haven't gotten the memo. Take a look at the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, among others.
Luke Kuechly isn't going to miss many tackles. He utilizes great technique at the point of contact and is able to transform that into a strong tackling ability.
You can bet that a majority of teams are going to look at this when the draft comes next week.
We saw firsthand exactly what a sure-tackling linebacker can do for a defense. The San Francisco 49ers had two of them last season in the form of NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. Needless to say, this is one of the primary reasons the Niners ranked among the best defenses in the league.
Whichever team selects the Boston College product will be one step closer to that elite status.
4. Reaction Skills
OK, so the beginning of the embedded video shows a Miami Hurricanes player carrying Luke Kuechly into the end zone.
Why would I post this in an article focusing on his strengths?
Take a look at Kuechly's recognition of the play prior to the snap. He fully understood exactly where Miami was going to go with the play, but the rest of the Boston College defense didn't get the memo.
This fully illustrates exactly what Kuechly can do for a team as a "quarterback" in the middle of the defense.
He will be playing alongside professionals in the NFL, so you can expect this aspect of his game to translate much better at that level.
3. Field Awareness and IQ
As I mentioned in the previous slide, Luke Kuechly has a great understanding of what is going on with the offensive formation prior to the snap.
Now, I am going to focus on his awareness and IQ once the play has started.
The Boston College product is able to adapt to different formations and keep himself in the play when the offense goes in a different direction.
This was evident in the majority of the videos that I have watched this offeason. Unlike some of the other top linebacker prospects in the draft, Kuechly will not over-pursue a play or take himself out of the action by "guessing wrong."
Instead, he is going to be in on pretty much every play between the hashes.
This is an important attribute that most 4-3 and a handful of 3-4 teams are looking for. This is also a primary reason why Kuechly is the No. 1 inside linebacker in the draft.
2. Run Support
While Luke Kuechly may struggle early on in pass defense, he should be able to come in and immediately make a contribution in run support.
This is a prospect that plays really well up against the line and recognizes where the offense is going on run plays. This enables him to attack the line of scrimmage against the run and limit yards gained on the ground.
Some of the best inside linebackers, such as Patrick Willis, are really good at doing this.
If Kuechly can earn his keep early in stopping the run, he will be able to concentrate on honing his skills in other aspects of the game.
One thing that tape and analysis don't show is production.
Despite the shortcomings that some scouts will indicate Luke Kuechly has, they are unable to discount his production at Boston College.
The linebacker recorded 192 tackles in 2011 and another 182 tackles in 2010; that is simply amazing.
Additionally, he totaled double-digit tackles in all but five of his 38 collegiate games.
This is the type of production that teams are definitely going to take a look at heading into the NFL draft next week.
One cannot look at these statistics and draw any conclusion other than that Kuechly is going to be a productive player in the National Football League.
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