Panthers go with Luke Kuechly

So much for a defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers in the first round. As I’ve said all along, I didn’t think the Panthers necessarily wanted to go in that direction.

That turned out to be true Thursday night as the Panthers had their choice of any defensive tackle in the draft and they passed. Instead, they took Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.

I see a couple of reasons for this. The Panthers know they have Ron Edwards returning from injury and several young defensive tackles they like. They also have major needs at linebacker, where Jon Beason and Thomas Davis are coming back from major injuries.

Kuechly is a run-stuffer in his own right. The guy was a tackling machine in college. Put him behind Edwards and alongside Beason, Davis and James Anderson and Carolina suddenly has a much better run defense.

It remains to be seen if the Panthers will go with Beason or Kuechly in the middle. But the upside is both of them have the ability to be very good there. One of them will move outside and that provides insurance if Davis isn’t the player he once was.