Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE
Luke Kuechly has played even better than most expected him to so far in the preseason.
Just like his days at Boston College, Kuechly very rarely allows himself to get caught out of position and is a master at diagnosing what is happening as the play progresses.
He always seems to put himself in a position to make plays, and you could count the mistakes that he has made on one hand.
Kuechly alone will improve the Panthers' run defense by at least 20 yards a game, as he is that intelligent of a football player. His presence alone will take the pressure off the secondary, who will not need to make as many drive-saving tackles this season.
If defensive tackles Ron Edwards and Sione Fua are able to stay healthy and clog the middle, Kuechly will have a field day chasing down opposing running backs all season.
He made his mark early on in the preseason, as he forced Arian Foster to fumble in the first week of the preseason. It was by far the play of the game for the Panthers, who fell to the Houston Texans, 26-13.
In the third preseason game against the New York Jets, Kuechly complied 10 tackles and was all over the place on run defense. When it appeared as if Shonn Greene or one of the other Jets running backs had a decent hole, Kuechly would somehow find a way into it and stifle the play.
If he is able to perform at his current level in the regular season, then he will be in the conversation for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
The sky is the limit for Kuechly, especially since he will be playing alongside other talented linebackers like Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and James Anderson.