Posts Tagged ‘luke kuechly’
April 25, 2012 at 03:05pm by Scott • 8 Comments »
According to Rick Stroud, if both Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson are off the board (and they won’t be) tomorrow night, Luke Kuechly would be a good choice for the Bucs.
Kuechly, the Bronko Nagurski Award winner as the best defensive player in college football, is a tackling machine. He had 191 tackles in 12 games last season and his average of 14 tackles per game for his career is an NCAA record and he’s the only player to lead the ACC in that category three straight seasons.
The Bucs need to get tougher on defense and Kuechly is as hard-nosed as it gets. He also can do something Foster struggled with at middle linebacker — flip his hips and cover receivers. Kuechly really opened eyes when he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
First let’s be clear. Stroud isn’t saying he has heard anything about this actually happening. He’s just offering up some speculation, which is fine considering there’s not really anything else happening today.
People thought I was nuts when I suggested a couple years ago that the Bucs might want to consider taking Sean Weatherspoon instead of Gerald McCoy. I thought Weatherspoon had the ability to be the best defensive player of that draft. History has shown that I wasn’t right about that, but you’d have a hard time arguing that McCoy was a better pick at this point. A dominant force at middle linebacker can make things so much easier for the rest of the defense. I made the argument for Weatherspoon. I might be able to make the same argument for Kuechly, but I’d need some convincing.
Kuechly’s production is huge and he has a lot of top qualities, but the #5 slot really should be for an elite player and I just don’t see Kuechly as elite. I’d love to have him on the team, but wouldn’t Justin Blackmon offer more value at that slot?Kuechly can do everything and do it at a very high level, but he’s not an elite athlete and can sometimes get overpowered by bigger bodies. At the #5 slot, I don’t like being able to list a player’s deficiencies off the top of my head. But if you can get your MLB for the next ten years and know that he’s going to be there and not make many mistakes in his career, how do you turn it down? I dunno, I’m torn. Thoughts?
March 01, 2012 at 01:34pm by Scott • 5 Comments »
Mason Foster looked confused and uncomfortable at the middle linebacker spot this season, and with good reason. That’s not the spot he’s best suited for. We all knew he would be an excellent weakside linebacker because that’s what he was in college and he was the only linebacker in NCAA history to make over one million career tackles (I may be off by a couple). But the previous regime loved to move people around for no good reason just because it made them seem tricky and innovative. Quincy Black at defensive end? Why not. Gerald McCoy as a 3-4 defensive end? Sounds great. Bring in Josh Johnson to needlessly run the play everyone knows he’s going to run? Can’t miss!
Foster had only moderate success as a rookie, something former coaches admitted was, at least in part, brought about by his numerous responsibilities. Another unintended consequence: Foster’s frequent inability to switch to different coverages when the offense made pre-snap adjustments.
But Greg Schiano sounds like a guy who just wants to line everyone up where they’re supposed to be and beat you with fundamentals and I gotta tell you, that sounds fan-fucking-tastic. And one way he’ll do it is to line Foster back up on the weakside where he should be.
“But I will say this, to give you a roundabout answer: He’s a linebacker. And, to me, if you’re a good linebacker, you should be able to play (strong-side) or (middle) or (weak-side). You’re off the ball in a two-point stance, you have very similar key progressions and very similar coverage responsibilities. I’m not caught up on pigeonholing guys into positions. You’re a linebacker. And he definitely has NFL talent.”
That means he’s moving, and that’s great news. I liked Foster as a draft pick but thought he was wasted in the middle. Geno Hayes is a free agent and this coaching staff isn’t going to make a big push to keep him, so the spot is wide open. Quincy will remain in the mix but will have to prove himself to coaches that have absolutely no loyalty to him and will grade him only on his performance.
A new middle linebacker could come in the draft, but won’t be the #5 overall pick. Luke Kuechly (Boston College) looks like the top inside linebacker prospect this year, but the Bucs won’t get him unless they trade out of the #5 slot and grab him somewhere in the #10-#18 range. People are saying that Dont’a Hightower (Alabama) is a 3-4 inside linebacker, but I don’t know why he couldn’t play MLB in a 4-3 at 265 running a 4.65. Hightower is a late-first but could slip to the Bucs in the second. After those guys, the draft pool of inside linebackers gets pretty shallow. Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State) is a piece of shit and Bobby Wagner (Utah State) missed the combine with pneumonia and will probably miss the Utah State pro day. He’s a good player and had a nice Senior Bowl, but he went to Utah State.
As far as free agents, Dan Connor and Curtis Lofton seem to be at the top of the list. They are 26 and 25 years old respectively, both are good players and strong leaders, but Lofton is obviously superior in just about every way. Also, signing either of them away from their teams weakens a conference rival, and that’s a nice bonus. Moving Foster to the weakside and having Lofton in the middle sounds pretty sweet right about now. Running up the middle on the Bucs would get a hell of a lot harder.