Luke Kuechly Scout

 

Middle Linebacker

Boston College

6-3 242

Draft board overall prospect rank: #7

Draft board middle linebacker rank: #1

Overall rating: 91 (Top 10 pick)

40 time: 4.50

Games watched: Clemson/Boston CollegeBoston College/Maryland

Positives

·         Incredibly productive (534 tackles, 35.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections, 7 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles in just 3 years)

·         3 year starter

·         Incredibly consistent (double digit tackles in every game but 4, 9+ tackles in every game but 2, both of which were the first 2 games of his collegiate career)

·         Leader on and off the field

·         Excellent motor

·         Excellent work ethic

·         Intelligence

·         Passion

·         All the intangibles

·         Takes excellent routes to the ball

·         Excellent tackle technique

·         Rarely misses a tackle

·         A nose for the football

·         Very good in coverage – particularly in zone

·         Makes plays on the ball in the air

·         Reads the quarterbacks’ eyes

·         Instinctive

·         Excellent, fluid hips

·         Gets deep in his drops in coverage

·         A willing and capable special teamer

·         Literally did everything for Boston College (4 down linebacker, who played every type of special teams imaginable)

·         Great athleticism (4.50 40, 38 inch vertical, 10-2 broad jump)

·         Good bench press numbers (27 reps of 225)

Negatives

·         Not as good at shedding blocks as you’d expect

·         Not a pass rusher

·         Not a big hitter (only 2 forced fumbles)

·         Only average on field strength

·         Plays a position of low value

·         Might be too small for some 3-4 defenses

NFL Comparison: Jerod Mayo

Luke Kuechly might be the cleanest player in this draft class. He has everything you love in a linebacker. He’s a phenomenal tackler who has 534 tackles in just 3 years, with 10+ tackles in 34 of 38 games and 9+ tackles in each of his last 9. He’s got all the intangibles. He never comes off the field. He has a great motor, great intelligent, great leadership, great work ethic, great passion and love of the game, and he’s squeaky clean off the field. He’s a phenomenal athlete with 4.5 speed and above average leaping ability, as well as above average bench press strength. He’s also excellent in coverage so he can play all 3 downs (4 if you count special teams).

His weaknesses are minor. He’s a tad bit undersized for some 3-4 defenses and he’s not great at shedding blockers, though in today’s NFL neither of those things are big deals. He isn’t a big hitter, with only 2 forced fumbles, but he more than makes up for that with all of his other production. He’s not a pass rusher, but he covers so well that it doesn’t matter. He’s the first non-rush linebacker I’ve ever given a top 10 grade and I think he has a solid chance to go there on draft day.

He’ll probably come off the board sometime between 9 and 12 as Carolina at 9, Buffalo at 10, Kansas City at 11, and Seattle at 12 will all have interest. I have him to Seattle, but I acknowledge that all of the other 3 are options. He reminds me a lot of another linebacker who went very high in the draft, Jerod Mayo, who the Patriots surprisingly took 10th overall in 2008.

Mayo has more than lived up to that draft pick with 501 tackles in 4 years (59 career games). He’s also been very good in coverage and when he’s rarely missed a game, his absence is noticeable. He’d played in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 for New England. Kuechly is best fit in a 4-3, but can play in some 3-4s, which is why Kansas City (a 3-4 team run by Scott Pioli, who was on New England’s staff when they took Mayo) is a frequently mocked destination for him.

Kuechly is one of 6 elite talents in this draft class in my eyes (Luck, Griffin, Kalil, Richardson, DeCastro, and Kuechly), but will be devalued because of his position. Position aside, he’s the 5th best player in this draft class. Position factored in, I have him 7th in that 2nd tier with guys like Richardson (also hurt by his position) Coples, Mercilus, Claiborne, Floyd, and Blackmon, all 2nd tier talents.

 

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