Draft Scout Snapshot: After sticking to a best-player-available model early, the Panthers filled some needs on the third day of the draft with players best described as solid. Adding linebacker Luke Kuechly lends an immediate stability to a side of the ball that was a mess last year. He's a mature tackler and cover man, who will help mask some deficiencies up front. If he's a high-floor player, guard Amini Silatolu is high-ceiling. He's on the raw side coming from Division II Midwestern State, but his explosiveness caught their eye on tape. Beyond those two, the Panthers checked off a number of boxes, adding competition to spots that sorely needed it. They've done a solid job drafting in recent years by not getting married to need, and picks such as Kuechly are reminiscent of earlier best player available choices such as center Ryan Kalil. Being willing to go that route has provided them value in the past. BEST PICK: Linebacker Luke Kuechly: Impressed coaches with his movement and intelligence, and looks like the kind of player you can build a defense around. One of the NCAA's most productive players on a bad college defense, he has a gravity the Panthers need. Along with Jon Beason, gives them a potentially dominant pair of linebackers. - The Sports Xchange
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Draft Scout *Luke Kuechly News
01/09/13 - While NFL official stats gave linebacker Luke Kuechly a league-leading 164 tackles, the Panthers' coaches were even more generous. The team credited the rookie with 205 tackles in 2012, which destroyed the team record of 174 set by linebacker James Anderson in 2011.
01/03/13 - LB Luke Kuechly, who led the NFL in tackles, played all 769 of the Panthers' defensive snaps in the team's final 12 games.
12/24/12 - LB Luke Kuechly will lead the NFL in tackles after Week 16. Kuechly's 13 tackles against the Raiders give him 151 in his rookie season. He also added his second career interception.
12/24/12 - LB Luke Kuechly is making a loud case for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
But the soft-spoken Kuechly isn't actually saying much about the possible award, and he's instead letting his play do most of the talking.
With 13 tackles against Oakland, Kuechly jumped back into the NFL lead for most tackles this season with 151. Sunday was also his NFL-best ninth game this year with 10 or more tackles, and for good measure, the Boston College product added his second interception.
Kuechly again deflected most of the praise afterward, crediting the defensive line and other factors for his success. But while the linebacker is uncomfortable talking about himself, head coach Ron Rivera doesn't mind raving about his rookie star.
"He is a heck of a football player and we will continue to coach him up, because believe it or not, I think Luke Kuechly could be a better football player," Rivera said.
"You would love to take the credit and say we that we coached him like that, but you know, he is a natural football player. We're just trying to make sure we point him in the right direction now."
12/21/12 - LB Luke Kuechly has been credited with 174 tackles by Panthers coaches. That ties him with James Anderson, who set the franchise record with 174 tackles last season.