With names Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Jon Beason it’s probably impossible to believe that linebacker is a need for the Carolina Panthers. With Beason suffering season ending injuries the past two seasons, and Thomas Davis only having played one full season since suffering three torn ACL’s in three seasons, linebacker has turned into a bit of a need.
Joining the re-signed Jordan Senn, and the newly acquired Chase Blackburn, A.J. Klein adds depth to a linebacker corps that could possible use his services earlier than desired this season. There’s just no telling whether or not Jon Beason or Thomas Davis will be able to remain healthy, although everyone would like them to. They’re both good players that, alongside Kuechly, will prove to be formidable.
What A.J. Klein is first and foremost is a good, smart football player. He’s got great technique and makes few mistakes. He can play linebacker at any position and would easily benefit from playing beside Kuechly and Co. He’s a great tackler and wraps up, he doesn’t simply hit which seems to be the norm in football these days. He had three seasons of over 100 tackles at Iowa State to prove it. The guy guy just plain hustles.
He won’t win you the coverage battle so we won’t be asking him to cover Jimmy Graham or Tony Gonzalez. Some people have questioned his speed. And while he doesn’t quite have the speed for man coverage, or the instincts, he has good game speed. He ran a 4.66 40 at the combine and that shushed some of the negative knocks about his speed. He’s versatile and will be a great addition on special teams. He could even end up being one of our special teams super stars.
He’ll likely need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, and will hopefully have some time to sit and learn behind the guys in front of him. However, if his number is called he won’t make very many mistakes. Gettleman once again filled a need and down the road may have gotten a potential starter out of Klein.