Carolina Panthers: Easy cases for early draft picks
After witnessing the metrics that Isaiah Simmons displayed this past weekend a lot of people will say drafting him is a no-brainer. However, there are six other teams that have to make that decision before the Panthers do, and after what they saw he might not be available for the Panthers.
Nonetheless, the Panthers are in need of a player that can replace Luke Kuechly. Obviously having the natural athleticism is necessary, but Kuechly’s ideal replacement won’t just have metrics that show up on combine tape or even college football tape. The most measurable metric will be the acuity of the player, and that won’t be evident until the middle of the regular season.
What made Luke Kuechly so great wasn’t just his athleticism, it was his willingness to be a student of the game. Teams knew that he knew where they were going on almost every offensive snap, and he knew that teams knew they had to avoid him. Those are some pretty big shoes for a rookie to fill, and that person will be expected to do it fairly quickly.
Even if that person earns a starting position no one outside of the organization will know whether the self-direction of Luke Kuechly is present in the new blood by the first game. Regardless of when they get drafted a lot of people will expect the first linebacker drafted to be a replacement for Luke, especially if it does happen to be a first-rounder.