For the 2011 Dick Butkus award winner, the scouting report seems to be clear. Instinct, instinct, instinct is the name of his game as the player’s game intelligence is widely heralded as his overwhelmingly better trait.
But while a player’s football IQ being hailed is usually a sign of good things, there is a sense that Kuechly receives praise in this aspect of his game as a sort of back handed compliment; the sense that he is being praised for intangibles to highlight the problems scouts have with the tangibles.
Indeed the most consistent knock on Kuechly has been his size. Previously weighed in at 6’2” and 237 lbs, there’s a notion that the ACC standout’s build provides is the discrepancy from teams looking to pick him up. In that sense, the combine may be more important for Kuechly than it is for any other player, as he’ll have to prove he is good enough physically to merit an NFL first round pick.
Having said that, even without the benefit of knowing Kuechly’s 40 time, or what he can handle on a bench press, the BC linebacker is a player that should really be at the top of Philly’s list of draft candidates. Should Kuechly come out an impress next week at the combine, which his recent workouts with the IMG football academy in Florida implies he would, there’s all the more reason to pick him, and he might become a lock of a choice at the 15th spot. But what’s for certain as of right now is that Kuechly has a lot of what the Eagles were missing all last season.
If there was one area in which teams enjoyed success against Philadelphia it was through the middle. The Eagles front four was a menacing group, but once opposing tailbacks got to the second level, the run game paid high dividends. Many could point to Philly’s current crop of linebackers’ lack of anticipation as a huge flaw in this sense. As a unit their reading of the game at the line was not the best, while they were slow to react to danger in many cases.
This knock on the Philadelphia linebacking core can be disputed – in fact, any criticism of any players(s) can be disputed – but if the organization deem a lack of nous in the middle as a glaring problem than they may just go with Kuechly. As stated before, his strong points are his anticipation and his reading of the game, while praise of the player, though expressed in different ways, tends to deliver the same message: the kid has field smarts.
If Kuechly falls down to the fifth spot, the Eagles’ resolve may be tested. If they have plans for other players with that 15th pick, they might want to cast them upside come late April, because as of now Luke Kuechly looks like a potential shoe-in for Lincoln Financial Field.