Scouts Inc.'s Kevin Weidl says Luke Kuechly is one of the best pure football players in this year's draft class, and buzz is building that the former Boston College linebacker could possibly be selected among the top 10 picks in next week's NFL draft.
The interest in Kuechly begins as early as No. 7 overall, with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are perhaps looking to upgrade with the kind of safe, proven prospect that general manager Gene Smith is known to covet. The Carolina Panthers are also a possibility at No. 9, with LBs Thomas Davis and Jon Beason coming off injuries and depth being a concern.
And don't count out the Buffalo Bills, who pick 10th overall. The Bills finished 28th in the NFL in rushing defense last season (139 ypg), and Kuechly would be a welcome addition in the middle as Buffalo transitions to a 4-3 defense.
Looking a little further down the line, there doesn't seem to be a scenario in which Kuechly would get past the 15th overall pick. The Kansas City Chiefs will have strong interest at No. 11, the Seattle Seahawks could fill a need at linebacker at No. 12 and the Philadelphia Eagles would be thrilled in the unlikely event Kuechly somehow falls to them at No. 15.
The fact Kuechly is being talked about among the top 10 or 15 picks is quite a testament to the inside linebacker. The Texans' Brian Cushing (USC, No. 15 in 2009) and the Patriots' Jerod Mayo (Tennessee, 10th in 2008) come to mind when thinking of high linebacker selections who saw significant time inside.