How Frankie Luvu’s sensational 2022 season compares with NFL’s best

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /

Frankie Luvu’s emergence as the beating heart on defense is reflected in the recent statistics accumulated by the Carolina Panthers’ outside linebacker.

The Carolina Panthers are no strangers to special linebacker play. The list of all-time greats is long and rich, including names such as Luke Kuechly, Kevin Greene, Thomas Davis, Dan Morgan, Jon Beason, and Sam Mills, whose Keep Pounding mantra is now firmly restored across the franchise thanks to Steve Wilks.

Shaq Thompson is no slouch, either. But another player has really flashed this season.

Frankie Luvu.

A fifth-year pro, Luvu was signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent out of Washington State in 2018. Much of his tenure with Gang Green was spent rotating between the practice squad and the active roster, with the majority of actual playing time coming on special teams and as a reserve.

Carolina Panthers are getting outstanding production from Frankie Luvu

The Panthers signed Luvu in the 2021 offseason and although he still functioned primarily as a special teams standout and depth option, the outside linebacker made an instant impact in Carolina with momentum-shifting plays en route to three fumble recoveries and a blocked punt.

Luvu proved to be an instant spark when given the opportunity. It paid off for the relentless presence as the Panthers gave him a deserved extension and assigned him to a starting role on their promising defensive unit.

Watching the games, Luvu passes the eye test with flying colors. He’s sudden, physical and as demonstrated numerous times against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, there are terrific instincts to be around the football prominently.

Undoubtedly enjoying the best season thus far of his young career, how does Luvu’s 2022 campaign stand up against that of one of the highest-regarded and promising linebackers in the NFL today?

Using the defensive statistics accumulated by Pro Football Reference, Luvu compares favorably to Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens, who is widely regarded as the best second-level defender in the business.

In 11 games this season, he’s amassed 78 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception which was returned for a touchdown. Smith has played 13 games this season, totaling 120 combined tackles, eight tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and three picks.

Luvu has six missed tackles, which equates to 7.10 percent of attempts. On the other hand, Smith’s accumulated seven at a 5.5% clip.

The return on Carolina’s investment in Luvu is looking like one of the more astute moves general manager Scott Fitterer has made since coming on board. Something that could see another new deal in the player’s immediate future.

While the statistics paint a concise picture of just how impactful Luvu has been this season, it doesn’t display perhaps his greatest contribution – a never-ending drive and passion that has earned him the right to be discussed as the catalyst and heart and soul of the Panthers defense.

Luvu is absolutely believed within the locker room and across the fanbase. If the player continues this form in the coming weeks, then it might give Carolina a chance at making the postseason against all odds.

And what a story that would be.

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