The decision to select Luke Kuechly was largely an unpopular one, especially to fans hoping for immediate improvement. Most agreed that the linebacker out of BC was a superior talent, but was he the right talent for the Carolina Panthers? Jon Beason is battling injury, and Thomas Davis is being handled with kid-gloves, which has justified the selection of Kuechly, but how does he look stacked up against the best linebackers drafted in the last five years?
There has been an amazing influx of talent at the linebacker position over the last five years through the draft. Today we're looking at the best first-round selections at linebacker in the last five year (omitting obvious 3-4 rush backers), and seeing how Luke Kuechly stacks up after five games.
|Name||Tackles||Solo||Assisted||Sacks||Interceptions||Forced Fumble||Runs Stuffed|
|Patrick Willis (5 games)||50||35||15||0||0||1||4|
|Patrick Willis (season)||174||135||39||4||0||2||6|
|Lawrence Timmons (5 games)||6||6||0||0||0||0||0|
|Lawrence Timmons (season)||13||11||2||0||0||0||1|
|Jon Beason (5 games)||36||29||7||0||0||0||1|
|Jon Beason (season)||140||106||34||0||1||0||4|
|Jerod Mayo (5 games)||34||29||5||0||0||0||1|
|Jerod Mayo (season)||128||100||28||0||0||1||5|
|Brian Cushing (5 games)||39||22||17||0.5||0||0||4|
|Brian Cushing (season)||134||84||47||5.0||4||2||8|
|Sean Weatherspoon (5 games)||29||25||4||1.0||0||0||0|
|Sean Weatherspoon (season)||42||34||8||1.0||0||0||0|
|Von Miller (5 games)||18||15||3||5.0||0||2||0|
|Von Miller (season)||64||50||14||11.5||0||2||8|
|Luke Kuechly (5 games)||36||19||17||0||1||0||6|
|Luke Kuechly (projected season)||115||61||54||0||3||0||19|
So far Luke Kuechly is slight behind on tackles from most of these LBs, but don't forget that he was playing outside linebacker for many of these downs. For a non pass rushing linebacker a key statistic to look at is runs stuffed-- the run-stopping equivalent of a sack. Not only does Kuechly blow this figure out of the water, he does so to a factor of three over most of these linebackers. It's here where his lauded play diagnosis skills play a role, and where he's making the biggest impact for the Panthers in his first year.