Luke Kuechly Named 2012 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IFebruary 2, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 23:   Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers watches on during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Bank of America Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has proven his worth as the No. 9 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

According to multiple sources, including Will Brinson of CBS Sports, Kuechly has won the Associated Press 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year award:

The Panthers made Kuechly their first selection in last year's draft, and he immediately made an impact for the Carolina defense after starting LB Jon Beason was forced out with a season-ending injury.

The 21-year-old led the NFL in total tackles with 164 and had 10 games of double-digit tackles, a stretch of six-straight games where he reached that mark and a 16-tackle game in Carolina's huge 30-20 upset win over NFC champion Atlanta in Week 14.

Kuechly also finished the 2012 regular season with eight pass deflections, two interceptions and a sack for head coach Ron Rivera and the Panthers, and with he and Beason returning for the 2013 season, the defense will have higher expectations than ever as Rivera tries to stay off of the hot seat.

Starring at Boston College before being drafted this season, Kuechly won the 2012 NFC Defensive Player of the month in December after he compiled 59 tackles in four games. He adds this new trophy to his collection after already winning the same award from Pro Football Weekly in January.