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The Rise and Fall of the 2012 NFL Draft

26 September 2014 - 09:40 AM



9. Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina

A disaster who has done nothing but brought his franchise shame since being draf— oh, wait, I got confused. What is a superstar doing in the middle of this mess? Luke Kuechly fell on draft day because teams aren’t interested in using high draft picks on middle linebackers, so give deposed Panthers general manager Marty Hurney (and head coach Ron Rivera) a ton of credit. Kuechly has turned into a franchise cornerstone, winning defensive player of the year in his second season while quickly becoming football’s best middle linebacker. It’s going to be a joy to watch him play for years to come. Let’s just hope he’s not the next victim of this miserable class.




The All-22: Breakdown of Panthers D-line play

13 November 2013 - 09:21 AM



One of the reasons the Carolina Panthers hired head coach Ron Rivera before the 2011 season is that the man knows how to turn a defense around. And the Panthers certainly needed that help — in 2010, their defense ranked 16th in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted metrics, dropping to dead last in Rivera’s first year. But over the 2012 and 2013 seasons, while all the focus was on Cam Newton’s quarterback development and body language, Rivera and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott were building a fairly titanic front seven — the kind that could compete with any in the NFL when the conversation came around to the league’s best in that department. The 6-3 Panthers are buttressed by Luke Kuechly’s legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidacy, linebacker Thomas Davis is criminally underrated, and if you want to see an active and effective defensive line in everything from base fronts to advanced blitzes, this group is as good as it gets. Carolina currently ranks first in FO’s metrics, and only the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed fewer yards and points this season.





49ers blog previews Panthers defense

07 November 2013 - 11:44 AM


On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers come to Candlestick to play the 49ers for the first time since 2004. Fresh off four straight victories, the Panthers present a stern challenge for a 49ers team that has feasted on a five game stretch comprised of opponents with a combined record of 13-28.

Featuring the leagues best defense, in points allowed, the Panthers are one of the few teams that have the personnel to match the 49ers in the trenches. Stud defensive linemen like Charles Johnson, Star Lotulelei and Kewann Short wreak havoc at the line scrimmage allowing Pro Bowl MLB Luke Kuechly to seek and destroy ball carriers, presenting a challenge for the 49ers rushing attack.

With such a talented front seven, the 49ers must attack the Panthers few weaknesses in the run game in order to find any success offensively. While the defensive front is extremely physical and large, the linebackers behind them, Kuechly and Davis, sacrifice size for speed, something the 49ers could target. Let’s look at how the Buccaneers had found some success by attacking the smaller linebackers of the Panthers two weeks ago.


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