The Ravens have always employed the ‘best player available’ philosophy in the NFL Draft and there is no reason to believe they will waiver from that strategy this year. Over the next month and a half I will be posting about players I believe the Ravens are or should be targeting in the draft. Now, Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.
POSITION – Inside Linebacker
COLLEGE – Boston College
HEIGHT – 6’3
WEIGHT – 237
– Kuechly is a technician. He Diagnoses plays extremely quickly and then takes decisive angles at the ball carrier.
– His production is off the charts. Last season he had 191 tackles, and in 2010 he had 183 tackles, 110 of which were solo. To put that in perspective last year Ray Lewis had 95 tackles in 16 games, Kuechly notched his 191 in only 12 games.
– Before the NFL Combine there were questions about his overall athleticism. Kuechly answered all his critics by running in the 4.5’s for his forty yard dash, and jumping 10 feet 3 inches in the broad jump.
– On tape Kuechly runs the seam well in pass coverage. He can turn his hips and run hip in man with all tight ends and even some receivers. He gets deep in his zone coverage drops, something most inside linebackers struggle with early.
– Kuechly is a true 3-down linebacker. This is a trait that is more and more valued due to the NFL becoming more of a passing league every year. You will not have to take Kuechly off the field, or adjust his position on 3rd downs like you would for some other linebackers in this draft, such as Alabama ILB Dont’a Hightower.
Overall, Kuechly is rated by most the top Inside Linebacker in this year’s NFL Draft, and projected to go much higher than the Raven’s 29th overall pick. The Ravens are one of the last teams in the NFL to employ a true Mike linebacker, and Kuechly is a true Mike Linebacker. He may slide down draft boards due to the fact that certain teams with their defensive schemes could not maximize his abilities. The fear with Kuechly is that he is not a superior athlete, and when your job is to run down and tackle some of the best athletes in the world, it is an understandable fear. Ozzie Newsome has always been known to take value picks, people who get passed over due to character concerns, bad combine performance etc. If Kuechly is available at 29, I expect Ozzie to view this as a great value and pull the trigger.
Justin Ford lives in Carroll County Maryland. He has been playing and coaching football for 16 years and writes “Ford’s Forecast” for BSR.Follow him on Twitter – @JRFord0