This weeks NFL Defensive player of the week is none other than our own Luke Kuechly. He won the award with a 16 tackle performance against the Atlanta Falcons. Kuechly, the Panthers 1st round pick, is a leading candidate for the NFL’s annual defensive rookie of the year award . He is the only defensive player this season to have 3 games of 15 tackles or more and is leading the NFL in tackles with 130. Should he finish the year as the leading tackler in the league, he should be considered for the league’s defensive player of the year.
Many fans and football pundits were puzzled by the drafting of Kuechly by Carolina. Seeing as how they had 3 quality linebackers and a Pro Bowler at the middle backer position, why the need to draft Kuechly? Well great move by the Panthers front office. Luke has turned out to be the best defensive player taken in the 1st round to this point and it can be argued that he is the best player on an injury riddled Panthers defense.
I don’t want to sound like a heretic, but I truly believe Kuechly has won the starting middle linebacker position. He has come in as a rookie and taken control of the defensive calls on the field, he makes certain everyone is lined up in the proper positions, and he has become a leader of that defensive unit. Should Jon Beason return next year I would hope him ready to take on another position among the linebacking corps. Nothing would please me more than to see all 4 of our linebackers on the field at the same time, I doubt it will happen however seeing how bad the team is in regards to salary cap space. We will in all likelihood see the departure of Jon Beason.
Kuechly has a history of piling up tackles. While at Boston College in a 3 year collegiate career, Kuechly compiled a staggering 532 tackles. He has always had a nose for the ball but the leadership qualities he has exhibited have really been impressive. In the unfortunate event of the release of Beason I am thrilled to know our defense will continue to be in good hands under the on-field leadership of Luke Kuechly.
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