|Name: Luke Kuechly||40-yard: 4.50|
|College: Boston College||Bench Reps: 27|
|Position: ILB, WLB||Vertical: 38"|
|Height: 6'3"||Broad Jump: 10'3"|
|Weight: 242 lbs.||Draft Projection: Top 20|
Size (2): Kuechly is well-built with good overall thickness. He has the frame to add a few more pounds to his upper body, which would only make him stronger. He's still young (21) and should fill out in the NFL even more.
Speed (2): On tape, Kuechly appears to have above average speed. His instincts and read/reaction skills gives him elite speed. He's especially fast when closing with full-speed.
Athleticism (2): Above average agility, feet, flexibility and hips in coverage. His strength is average. Kuechly showed his athleticism at the combine where he was in the top-five in most categories amongst linebackers.
Blitz/Rush (3): Kuechly played in a fairly passive defense that didn't allow him to blitz or rush the QB often. When he did, again, Kuechly's instincts took over and he timed his blitzes perfectly, shooting the gaps before the lineman could often react. He doesn't display the ability to win with moves or counter-moves but blitzing up the middle should be fine for Kuechly.
Zone/Man coverage (2): Kuechly does a great job in zone coverage. He reads the quarterback's eyes, feeling the routes behind him. He seems to always be a step ahead of the opposing offense's play. In man coverage, Kuechly can hold his own but quicker running backs underneath can give him trouble. Surprising ball skills for Kuechly, even down field.
Run Defense (2): Again, instincts, his ability to read and react, and Kuechly's play recognition makes him a pesky run-defender. He'll never be a smash-mouth power-run defender like Ray Lewis, but he plays the angles correctly and works well with his teammates. Kuechly almost never overruns a play and knows when he has help to the inside/outside. He'll be at his best when a team puts two big defensive tackles in front to keep Kuechly clean, allowing him to run sideline to sideline.
Shedding Blocks (3): Kuechly isn't the best when it comes to taking on blocks forcefully and shedding them early enough to make a play. He would rather run around a blocker, because he can. Where he does an excellent job is keeping his head on the correct side of the play (vision) and keeping one arm free to make the tackle when the runner reaches him.
Tackling (1): Kuechly is Boston College's all-time leading tackler for a reason. He's very sound and wraps with some force. Not always a power-tackler, but Kuechly seems to catch the runner off-guard and lays a good lick. I watched eight games and probably only saw a handful of missed tackles.
IQ/Instincts (1): Probably the most instinctive and football-smart defensive player I've ever seen. There were more than a few players where I wrote "Wow" in my notes because he diagnosed the play before it even developed. He understands angles, route concepts, blocking assignments and quarterback progressions. This allows Kuechly to become a 'Skills-Multiplier' type player where everyone around him automatically becomes better.
Final Analysis: I knew Luke Kuechly was a tackling machine just by looking at his stats. When I watched his games, I wanted to see if he was like Cowboy's ILB Sean Lee or is he more like a Paul Posluszny/James Laurinaitis. Sean Lee is becoming an all-around LB and on his way to many Pro Bowls. He'll never be a great pass rusher/TFL guy like Kuechly, but he's a sound player with the physical tools to be great. Poz and Laurinaitis are more 'tackling-machines' who struggle in coverage.
Kuechly should be on the Sean Lee side of the spectrum. He'll be a team leader and a three-down ILB who will be a tackling machine. He'll never make many impact plays (TFL, Sacks, Forced Fumbles), but Kuechly will make a difference on a play-by-play basis.
NFL Comparison: Sean Lee, Cowboys
Games Watched: Nevada 2010, Duke 2010, Notre Dame 2010, Miami 2011, UCF 2011, Clemson 2011, Florida State 2011
Grading: 1 - Elite, 2 - Above Average/Good, 3 - Average, 4 - Below average/Poor, 5 - Badberry (Not at an NFL level)