NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Loyko
IEven though Florida State blew out Boston College on the field, the best pro prospect on the field wore a Boston College uniform.
In this film room session we break down Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, his perfomance last night, and how he projects to the next level. I will also give some thoughts on other players who stoodout or caught my eye while watching from the sideline last night.
Luke Kuechly finished last night’s game with 20 total tackles. For any normal player that number would jump off the page, but for Kuechly it’s become commonplace and even expected of him to make 15-20 tackles per game. In his Boston College career Kuechly has had double digit tackles in every game he has played except 3. Those 3 games where he didn’t have double digits were 3 of his first 4 as a college football player. Kuechly stepped in his freshman year, when it was learned BC captain Mark Herzlich would miss the year due to his cancer diagnosis. Herzlich at the time was BC’s best linebacker since Mike Mamula, not only has Kuechly meet those expectations he has raised the bar to another level. Kuechly is on pace to lead the nation in total and solo tackles yet again and if decided to come back for his senior year he most likely would break the division 1 record for career tackles.
In a draft year that could produce MLB standouts like Manti Te’o, Vontaze Burfict and Dont’a Hightower, Kuechly in my opinion is on another level.
Has the best intincts I have ever seen for a linebacker at this level. Is able to make plays sideline to sideline, not because he is the best athelte on the field, but because he is the smartest player on the field. Has very good lateral quickness, gets to a gap and delivers the hit. Very rarely does he overrun a play or miss tackles. Very good blitzers, times them up and can disguise them well. When they call the blitz very rarely does he not get there. One concern I had with him was his size, but after seeing him upclose he is a legit 6’3″ and has added alot of muscle weight since he arrived on campus. Still has the ability to add 15 pounds to his frame. Kuechly is a punishing open field tackler, uses great form and explodes through the ball carrier. Last night I focused on him in pass coverage and he held up pretty well. He has pretty fluid hips, was a safety in high school and it shows. He trusts his intincts.
Kuechly is a throwback player, always going 100% and playing down hill. He is a true QB on the defense, he has the ability to make calls, audible, and check off plays. Not only is he an all american on the field, he is a standout in the classroom.
Also a contributor on special teams, Kuechly delivered a devestating hit to the PR as he caught the ball. Consistantly the first one downfield on kick coverages.
One thing that caught my eye last night was that BC was down big in the 4th quarter and a senior walk-on safety had just blown an assignment to allow a touchdown. Kuechly walking off the sideline was coaching him up and showing him what to do next time. Any team that drafts this kid is going to get a hell of a player. You can stick the green dot one the back of his helmet day 1 and not worry about your middle linebacker position for the next 10 years.
Some teams may question if he is tough enough or big enough to hold up inside. Teams have begun to run misdirections and other disguised plays to try and throw Kuechly off. He is such a smart instinctive player, that if you have put it on film Kuechly will recognize it. Not the greatest athlete so his measurables at the combine may not stand out.
In my opinion this kid is a legit 1st round pick. Any team that passes him up will regreat it. Teams may fall in love with Burficts aggresiveness and mean streak or Manti Te’os athletecism, but this kid is the best MLB in the country. When the Patriots drafted Brandon Spikes everyone questioned him about his speed, but BB said his ability to recognize and react to plays negates his 40 time. Kuechly is likely to run a better 40 than Spikes and is the superior player to him.
Other notes from last nights game:
– Brandon Jenkins will almost certain have to move to OLB. He is much smaller than I thought and though he had some very productive plays as a rush end, he got blocked too much on runs and failed to keep contain at all on a number of roll outs. John Wetzel also was able to manhandle him at times, when Jenkins didn’t get good hand placement.
-FSU CB Xavier Rhodes is huge. His legs look like those of a MLB. I don’t know if he will be able to stick at CB or have to move to safety but he is an intriguing prospect.
-Two names to keep an eye on who really stood out to me. FSU sophmore OLB Christian Jones. Jones made plays all over the field and has tremendous size and athletecism for the position and FSU DE Bjoern Werner. Werner is probably Florida St. best defensive prospect. He even came up with an INT on what looked to be a zone blitz.
-Nick O’Leary is a beast. He is a throw back tight end. Doesn’t wear gloves and plays with an edge, but man is he fast. Next big time TE prospect in college football.
-FSU CB Greg Reid is tiny, however he is a competitive tackler and isn’t afraid to throw his body around.
-Boston College CB Donnie Fletcher has the perfect size and build for NFL CB. While he is exposed sometimes by BC’s soft zone coverages, he is a player I think could be better in the pros.