Two Words... Phillip Dillard
Who is that you ask? Most casual Panthers fans don't know. He was the backup middle linebacker to Jon Beason. Phillip Dillard, the 6'0 4th round draft pick of 2010 waived by the Giants and signed to the Panthers practice squad. If Beason went down this season again, Dillard was our guy. Yikes.
Put yourself in Hurney and Rivera's shoes. Yes, your interior DL is hurting, but you have two young prospects already taken in the third round last season. You also have a veteran coming back who did not play a down last season to rotate in and out with the young guys.
Now look at your LB needs. You have three terrific linebackers. Davis probably won't play a full season again due to three ACL injuries, I'm sorry to say. Beason is an all pro but coming off a torn achilles. His prognosis is good, but their are no guarantees. James Anderson is the only player on the squad that is a high level pro linebacker who stands a good chance of starting and finishing the season.
So on draft day this kid Luke Kuechly drops in your lap. He is the best LB in the draft. He played in a very similar LB scheme at Boston College. He is smart, very smart. He is also probably automatically the best cover LB on the squad in a division full of talented TE's. He can play in the middle, he can play in the outside. Hell, I bet he could play fullback. He can shore up a ton of questions marks going into the season.
In short, he gives the Panthers the most value at #9 than any other player on the board and we are lucky to have him.
They got it right.