Luke Kuechly| Carolina Panthers | Inside Linebacker
Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 238
Date of Birth: 4/20/1991 (26)
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
College: Boston College
Draft: 2012, Round 1, Pick 9
Contract: 6 years, $64.105 million, through 2021
Luke Kuechly is a force of nature. The leader of the Panthers’ defense easily falls into the ranks of the NFL’s elite players, having consistently been the most talented inside linebacker in the league since his rookie season.
Kuechly excels at both stopping the run and defending the pass. He is widely regarded as the best run stopper in the league, regardless of position, and his 12 interceptions and 43 pass deflections since 2012 are numbers a defensive back would put up.
Kuechly won the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, and followed it up as the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He is only the second player to win both awards back to back, after legendary Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor did so in 1981-1982.
A statistical monster, Kuechly has amassed 693 total tackles, 9 sacks, 12 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, and 5 fumble recoveries in only five seasons. He has been a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro every season since 2013, despite missing three games in 2015, and six in 2016.
Recently Kuechly’s health has been a topic of discussion. He has been dealt with multiple concussions since 2015, causing him to miss nine games in the last two seasons. Kuechly’s recovery and ability to stay on the field in 2017 will be extremely important, not only to the Panthers’ season, but to Kuechly’s future in the NFL.
Hopefully he can put the concussions behind him. If Kuechly does, a 150 combined tackle, All-Pro season isn’t much of a reach.
Awards and Accolades:
4x Pro Bowl (2013 – 2016)
3x First-team All-Pro (2013 – 2015)
1x NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2013)
1x NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2012)
1x NFL All-Rookie Team (2012)
1x Second-team All-Pro (2016)
Honorable Mentions: Whitney Mercilus, Tahir Whitehead