The ninth overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft is now second in all the NFL in tackles. Luke Kuechly has taken the NFL by storm via the MLB position. The Boston College product has excelled for a youthful Carolina Panthers defense. Kuechly leads all of the NFL with three games of 15 or more takcles. To put that in perspective, no other player has done that more than once. In addition, Kuechly has taken on a role that none other rookie defensive player has. Asked to be quarterback of a defense as a rookie is a tremendous task and it has only become harder with OLB Jon Beason hitting the injured reserve after week four.
Last April, two defensive players were drafted ahead of Kuechly. Two secondary players, Morris Claiborne and Mark Barron were both taken at six and seven overall respectively. While Barron has delivered a few bone chilling hits at the Safety position, he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass defense is ranked worst in the NFL. Although it is not a direct reflection of Barron, he must be undermined for such awful secondary production. Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys traded up for Claiborne due to his NFL prowess while at LSU. However, alongside Pro Bowler Brandon Carr, Claiborne has been matched up against lesser wide receivers and has not made much noise early this season.
Kuechly has made his mark on the entire NFL with his second in the league tackle total and ability to turn the Carolina defense around later in the season. Furthermore, the Panthers should be rewarded with two Rookie of the Year trophies in two consecutive seasons as Kuechly deserves this honor more than anyone.