November 3, 2011; Chestnut Hill, MA, USA; Boston College Eagles linebacker Luke Kuechly (40) during the third quarter against the Florida State Seminoles at Alumni Stadium. Florida State Seminoles won 38-7. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

How I'd Spend the Panthers' Top Pick

With all the mock drafts, players going up and down like they do every year, everyone tries to keep a step ahead of the game and predict the impossible. In this particular column I’m sharing what I would LIKE to see happen.

Within reason, I’d like to see Carolina trade back, say with Philly at 15, so they can recapture their third rounder. Then, they’d take a Michael Brockers to add into the rotation in that defensive interior. They’d pick up a solid CB in round two and add a pass rusher with the second-rounder from trading back. It’s a deep class for WRs, so hopefully Carolina could pick one up later.

The problem lies in that there are a ton of players with similar grades this year and just doesn’t seem to be that urgency for anyone to jump up to 9 to trade, since the Dolphins’ pick at 8 is the real pivot point.

Unless someone HAS to have Michael Floyd or Fletcher Cox or Melvin Ingram at 9, I doubt there will be a trade partner there but you never know. 9 is too high for a Stephon Gilmore I think, and Buffalo has to be eyeing Floyd at 10.

If I had my way, I’d just go ahead and grab Luke Kuechly out of Boston College if available. While he wouldn’t help the pass rush, he would give the defense an instant upgrade against the run and be “The Guy” Rivera could build a defense around. Since Rivera is an old linebacker himself, it’s quite possible he’s thinking in this direction. With the injuries at the position they had last year, his addition would give them a lot of depth.

Kuechly led the BC Eagles in tackles his last three seasons and has no real weaknesses in his game. He has the range to get to the outside on runs wide and screen passes. He has the strength to hold up against the run in the middle and elite instincts to sniff out the play. The closest comparison I can make is Patrick Willis, and Kuechley has the ability to someday be an All-Pro…and sooner rather than later.

He’d be a 12-year star at the MLB position and even though it’s a passing league, teams can and will take advantage of your weaknesses. Drafting a QB for the defense would help stop the run and get everyone in that front seven to play just a little bit harder. He could be to the defense what Cam was to the offense last year and a great locker room influence.

Luke isn’t a sizzling, “sexy” choice. Simply put, he’s as good at what he does as anyone.

Perhaps as importantly, Kuechly could be the gel that holds the defense together and keeps them focused on their task. Rivera had Mike Singletary as a teammate when he played for the best defense ever, DAAAAA Bearsssss in 1986. A player like Kuechley could be a rare cornerstone-type MLB and I’d love to see him in Panther Blue.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Fantasy Fletcher Cox Luke Kuechly Melvin Ingram Michael Brockers Michael Floyd

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