2012 NFL Draft Grades: Why Luke Kuechly Is an A+ Pick for the Carolina Panthers

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2012 NFL Draft Grades: Why Luke Kuechly Is an A+ Pick for the Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers got defensive with their first-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft by selecting linebacker Luke Kuechly out of Boston College with the ninth overall pick.

Luke Kuechly, the winner of the Butkus Award as the nation's top collegiate linebacker and the Bronko Nagurski Award as the best overall defensive player in college football in 2011, adds much needed depth and talent to a Carolina Panthers linebacker corps that was decimated by injuries in 2011.

Though the Panthers did not draft either of the positions where they need the most help, defensive tackle and cornerback, they did select the best available player in Luke Kuechly and they upgraded their defense after finishing the season ranked 28th overall in 2011.

As I mentioned in my final Carolina Panthers mock draft, Luke Kuechley is a tackling machine who will give the Panthers one of the most feared linebacker corps in the NFL playing alongside Jon Beason, James Anderson and Thomas Davis.

In a pre-draft press conference last week, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera indicated that Carolina would pick a player who will be a major contributor right from the start, and they are getting that in Kuechly.

Though Beason and Davis are both expected to be healthy in 2012 after suffering season-ending injuries early in the 2011 season, the Panthers must be concerned about Thomas Davis' health and his ability to fully recover from a third ACL injury to play in the NFL—something that has never been done before.

Marty Hurney and Ron Rivera got the Carolina Panthers' draft off to a great start.

Overall Grade: A+

You can follow Jimmy Grappone on Twitter @imapone24.

Recent articles by Jimmy Grappone:

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