Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2012 Draft: Is Luke Kuechly Quietly Their Guy?

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IApril 24, 2012

Luke Kuechly is a Greg Schiano-type of player.
Luke Kuechly is a Greg Schiano-type of player.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When you get this close to the draft, it's not always the guys teams talk about, it's the players they don't talk about that you might want to give some attention.

Enter Boston College tackling machine Luke Kuechly.

Before you start throwing fits and wondering what in the name of Morris Claiborne is going on here and start hollering "reach!" let's take a closer look at a young man who has "Greg Schiano player" written all over him.

Teams often get into trouble when they draft based on potential rather than production. Kuechly is Mr. Production. He tackles people, he puts them on the ground, it's called "tackle" football and that's the area where the Buccaneer defense was woefully deficient last year.

Here's what scout Mike Mayock has to say about Kuechly. From The Boston Globe:

"He is one of the 10 best players in the draft. Historically, inside linebackers are not valued mostly because they get replaced in sub downs in sub packages and nickel packages. He's the opposite and his strength lies in the pass game. He's the best pass-dropping inside linebacker I've ever seen in college football. He's has instincts and speed. There's real value there because he's a three-down linebacker."

Another reason Kuechly is a prototype Schiano guy is character. The kid is quiet, humble and takes the game seriously. Oh yes, and here's something that would be a refreshing change on this team, something that fits right into the Schiano wheel-house—preparation.

"The way he prepares, he's into it every time. Very rarely have I seen him ever have an off day or an hour. He's into it, he's looking to get better. He's a gentleman off the field, but on the field, he's just what you would want out of a football player. He's got a competitive streak in him, he's got a little edge to him, he's a little irritable."

Those are the words of Kuechly's defensive coordinator at Boston College, Bill McGovern, also via The Boston Globe.

A little edge? You gotta love that. The guy had 191 tackles in 12 games. I'm not sure the entire Bucs defense had 191 tackles in 16 games. Seriously, though, this guy lives and breathes football, he loves it and, once again, Schiano wants guys who love and live the game.

But do the Bucs need a linebacker?

What we don't know is Schiano's real feelings about the current linebackers. He went back to study film of Mason Foster and, for all we know, he might be thinking that Foster can thrive on the outside.

The middle of the Buccaneer defense is certainly an area that could use a first-round upgrade.

Most all all, there hasn't been one peep about Kuechly.