Luke Kuechly has developed into the prototype middle linebacker in the NFL while playing for the Carolina Panthers. He is the player that every general manager and head coach in the league is searching for. When it comes to middle linebackers, Kuechly is tops in the league. Good enough, right? Well, Luke doesn’t think so.
Last season, Luke Kuechly made it a personal goal of his to improve his pass coverage ability. While his run stopping ability has always been strong, his coverage skills needed honing. Throughout the 2015 training camp, Kuechly’s focus was squarely on improving his ability to cover receivers.
The result? Kuechly was rated the pass coverage defender in the entire NFL by Pro Football Focus. Not just best linebacker, mind you. Best defender, beating out guys like safety Charles Woodson and cornerback Patrick Peterson.
This year, Kuechly aims to improve his ability to rush opposing quarterbacks in blitz packages.
Kuechly does not need to look far for a pass rushing tutor. Next to Kuechly on the playing field is a prime example linebacker who has achieved excellence in all three phases of a linebacker’s game. Yes, Kuechly wants to be more like Thomas Davis. Kuechly recently spoke about learning from Davis.
“I think if you can effect the passer, you look at a linebacker like Thomas who is good one on one. He can make guys miss and get after the quarterback, that’s big” Kuechly said. “If you can play three phases as a back, you can cover, you can play the run, you can rush (the passer), it’s pretty good.”
“That’s what Thomas does really well. He is good at all three. You can learn a lot from him” he added.
Thomas Davis is widely regarded around the NFL as a complete linebacker. A guy you can depend on to make a play under any circumstance, any play call. Kuechly feels it is the third phase, the rushing the passer, that will complete his game and make him more like Thomas Davis. If the past is any indicator of the future, play for play, Luke Kuechly will be among the top pass rushers in the league.
Great news for the Carolina Panthers. Terrible news for NFL quarterbacks.