Panthers franchise-changing moment No. 3: Drafting Luke Kuechly in 2012
After a 6-10 season in 2011. The Panthers had a clear need at linebacker, and the Panthers had the 9th selection in the draft. They used it on future Hall of Famer Luke Kuechly, who, in his prime, was one of the most gifted linebackers in NFL history.
The Cincinnati native won NFL rookie of the year in 2012, and every other season of his career, he was on either the 1st or 2nd AP all-pro team. His leadership, talent, and football intelligence made him become the best linebacker of his generation.
Other great players such as Stephon Gilmore, Fletcher Cox, and Chandler Jones were also available with the 9th pick in 2012, but none of them reached the levels that Kuechly did in his career. And the duo of Kuechly and Thomas Davis together led Carolina’s defense to transform into a dominating force. Kuechly was also a fan favorite, and he helped grow the Panther’s fanbase into what it is today.
Unfortunately, he decided to end his career earlier than he may have wanted to because of the concussions he suffered in the NFL. But in his shortened football career, he was one of the best to ever do it.