Boston College Junior
Has good speed and burst when working in pursuit. Has very good instincts and does a good job anticipating and recognizing plays. Can get upfield and beat the ballcarrier to the edge to make the stop in the backfield. Does a nice job attacking the hole. Will leap over the pile in short-yardage to make the stop on the quarterback sneak. Does a good job working in pursuit, working laterally and prevents the back from getting to the edge. When he overpursues against the cutback, he does a good job recovering to make the stop. Comfortable spying in the middle and does a good job keeping things in front of him. Can shoot upfield or on the edge to make the nice open field stop, working well against mobile quarterbacks. Is a sound, head-up wrap tackler that has nice pop to deliver some hits to the ballcarrier. Has good closing burst to the ball. Does a nice job working at the point of attack, and is willing to take on offensive linemen at the point of attack. He can win those matchups at times, showing ability to get extension and shed the block. Gets off blocks at the second level and can make the stop. Has decent hips when working in man coverage and comfortable working in space over the middle. Shows some ability to get depth when working in zone over the middle. Does a nice job working on punt coverage as well.
Lacks ideal speed and range. Is not always going to be able to close on the quicker ballcarriers in the open field. Will get a little bit more than he's giving as a hitter when taking on bigger players such as tight ends. Doesn't have great hips or footwork when trying to defend against quicker receivers over the middle. Can be caught playing on his heels at times, especailly when he's asked to take on linemen at the point of attack. Will try and run around those blocks at times and can get pushed off the ball. Will overpursue at times against the stretch play, giving up the cutback lanes a bit too often. Doesn't always take the best angles when working in space.
Kuechly first emerged as a true freshman during the year where Mark Herzlich was forced to sit out due to cancer. But BC's defense didn't take a huge step backwards because they had Kuechly out there making the plays that Herzlich once did. He's got a great nose for the football, and unlike a lot of collegiate tackles that get high tackle stats, he's not a pile jumper. When Boston College's defense has made a play the past few years, it's almost always him being the one that makes it. He's not an elite athletic specimen, although he tested very well at the Combine. But he doesn't always play with that sort of athleticism on the field, but he's a solid athlete. He's not a physical guy that is a punishing hitter. And he's not the greatest guy when working into coverage, but he is not really weak in any of those areas either. He's just an all-around good football player that has the potential to be one of the better middle linebackers in the league. His last name is pronounced KEEK-lee.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/3) vs. Northwestern: 1 TFL; 2 targets, 1 rec., 23 yds, 0 YAC, 1 TDs
(11/3) vs. Florida St: 0.5 TFLs, 2 stuffs, 1 key blocked; 0 tgt., 0 rec., 0 yds.
2011: 12 GP/12 GS, 191 tackles, 12.0 TFLs, 0.0 sacks, 3 INTs, 3 PDs, 0 FF, 0 FR
Kuechly reminds me as a less physical, less athletic version of Brian Urlacher. In terms of his instincts, awareness, and intelligence in the middle of the defense, you're really not going to find a better middle linebacker prospect. His problem is that despite his testing at the Combine, he doesn't really play to those numbers on the field. But I do think once he gets into an NFL scheme, he might be able to play faster. The talent around him at BC got progressively less and less over his career there, and I do think once he gets at home with NFL talent that can help cover up his mistakes, he might be able to play with a bit more of that balls to the wall style that you love in top-tier middle linebackers. He's not a great cover guy, but I don't think you have to worry about pulling him on third downs. Especially if he was to play in a scheme that likes to drop their linebackers into zone. In man coverage, where he's covering quicker wideouts or bigger tight ends, he could struggle at times. But he's smart enough that I don't think he'll ever be a true liability there. Especially, as time wears on he'll be more effective. But in a scheme that likes to have it's middle linebacker work in zones and cover the middle of the field, I think he'll do very well and make a lot of plays there similar to how Urlacher is the Bears' Tampa-2 scheme. I'm not sure he'll ever be truly feared like the elite middle linebackers tend to be, but he's a guy that I think you can be very confident and comfortable will lead your defense for the next decade. The floor for Kuechly is very high, so unless he is plagued by injuries similar to Dan Morgan, there is almost no risk for him being a bust. The absolutely worst he could be at the next level is Paul Posluszny, a very good, consistent, and productive player that is just not the force of nature because of his lack of elite physical tools and athleticism. But more than likely, he'll be a guy that quickly impacts in the league. He can come in right away and really help revamp a porous defense as a rookie. If you put him on a team that lacks defensive talent, there will be a visible improvement. If you put him on a defense that already has some talent, he can push them to being one of better units in the league similar to how Brian Cushing did as a rookie in Houston a few years back. As long as he stays healthy, he's going to have a long productive NFL career that he'll still be a very effective starter for some team 12 or 13 years from now. At his best, I'm not going to quite say Urlacher, but I do think if he reaches his full potential he'll be a multiple Pro Bowler that is always in the conversation for the top middle linebacker in the league right behind a guy like Patrick Willis.
Brian Cushing, Texans.
If the Falcons managed to land Kuechly, he would almost certainly surpass Lofton and Brooking as the best linebackers in team history since Jessie Tuggle. And if he could maintain the longevity that TUggle had, potentially surpass him too. It would then become Nobis, Tuggle, and Kuechly as the holy pantheon of Falcons middle linebackers. Kuechly can come right away and be an impact player right away. He's an upgrade over Lofton in coverage, and has better range and instincts against the run. Potentially down the line with a guy like Kuechly and Spoon at linebacker, the Falcons could essentially adopt a base-nickel defense because they wouldn't really need a third linebacker. His presence on defense would really open up things for this defense schematically. He is potentially the sort of impact player that could push the defense to be one of the best units in the league and stay there for a very long time.
Kuechly's production and safety as a middle linebacker prospect makes him well worth a Top 15 pick, and if a team was to take him in the latter part of the Top 10, I would not complain simply because he is a big piece that you can build around on that side of the ball.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Point of Attack: 8.0
Pass Rush: 5.0
Scouting reports of the inside and outside linebackers in the 2012 Draft.
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