Luke Kuechly- Kuechly is the best interior linebacker to come out of college in a few years, so the Carolina Panthers aptly selected him with the ninth overall pick in April's draft despite the presence of perennial Pro Bowler Jon Beason.
While some were confused as to why they took Kuechly rather than a player at a need position, the Panthers front office made the right decision.
At Boston College, Kuechly was a tackling machine. In fact, that isn't enough praise, as he left the ACC as the league's all-time leading tackler. In three seasons at BC, Kuechly compiled an amazing 533 tackles and had over 100 solo-tackles in each of the last two seasons.
How did Kuechly do in the team's first preseason game?
Well, he forced Arian Foster to fumble and made three tackles on the team's first drive. Not so bad for a rookie.
The Panthers finished 25th in rush defense last season, a ranking that Kuechly will help improve this season Simply put, Carolina couldn't pass on such a talented football player and he has done nothing to make us think that he won't be a perennial Pro Bowler in the years to come.
Kuechly is on this list because he is living up to the hype thus far. Which is all an organization in the top ten can hope for when investing that high of a selection on an interior linebacker.
Josh Norman- Before you kill me for including Norman as a winner thus far, think about the entire situation and today's practice in which he picked off four passes. We also shouldn't forget that Norman was impressive in mini-camps earlier this summer.
Granted, the hamstring injury that had plagued him through the majority of training camp severely hampered his ability to prove himself on the field.
However, there is a reason that Norman is still in contention for the second cornerback position. The guy can play and was overlooked because he played his college ball at Coastal Carolina.
He is currently in a battle with Captain Munnerlyn and Brandon Hogan for the starting corner spot opposite Chris Gamble.
Norman is a winner thus far because he is still in contention despite his ability to stay on the practice field consistently, which speaks volumes about how highly the coaches think of him.
It appears as if the team would prefer to move Munnerlyn to nickel back, a position he played last season, and put either Hogan or Norman on the outside.
If he is able to stay healthy, then we may be praising the Panthers front office for finding a gem in the fifth round.