The hype was there for Kuechly as soon as he left Boston College. Putting together an impressive resume at Chestnut Hill, Kuechly notched two seasons of 100-plus tackles. His best season while there was in 2011. That year he tallied 191 total tackles and three interceptions, making him a prime NFL Draft candidate. Those numbers followed a successful 2010 campaign that saw him record 110 tackles and three interceptions. If anything, this showed he was more than ready to play with the big dogs.
Ever since he was drafted ninth overall by the Carolina Panthers in 2012, success has followed him. In his rookie season, he tallied 164 tackles, a sack, and two interceptions. Those numbers won him the Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. With the award, he became the third-youngest player to receive the honor.
In his career, he has tallied 8,181 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and 15 interceptions. Defensive Player of the Year, All-Pro, four-time First-team All-Pro, and Five-time Pro Bowl honors are just some of the things in his trophy case. He enters the 2018 season ready to lead an experienced group of linebackers.
He has truly been a defensive catalyst to the team ever since he stepped on the field. Drafting a linebacker so early in the first round is risky, but Marty Hurney hit the nail on the head. The only downside to Kuechly is his injury history as concussions in particular have been a thorn in his side. Even still, he has put together a tremendous body of work that warrants him being on this list.