With all the recent talk about quarterbacks and how so many have changed hands this year’s it’s not surprising that this year’s NFL Draft has been dominated with quarterback talk. The top two picks, held by the Colts and Redskins, respectively, are assumingly, going to be filled by quarterbacks: Andrew Luck to the Colts and Robert Griffin III to the Redskins. That’s where all the logic has those two quarterbacks going but today’s mock draft featured in ‘This Week In Mock Drafts’ has a surprise twist for all mock draft enthusiasts.
Evan Silva’s first mock draft for ProFootballTalk.com, dated March 22, 2012, actually has RG3 going to the Colts and Luck “falling” to the ’Skins. Will that actually happen on draft day? Honestly, I highly doubt it, but more surprising things have happened in the world of football and drafts and who thought that Peyton Manning would be a Denver Bronco right now? I don’t think you could go wrong with either player and Jim Irsay is a bit of wildcard so Silva’s upset prediction for draft day could come true.
Now that we got the mandatory Luck/Griffin talk out of the way let’s move on to who Silva believes the Giants will be taking with the 32nd overall pick in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft…
…And the award goes to Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly!
A lot of mock draft talk centered on Kuechly has the former Eagle pegged as a top-15 pick in the draft and most mock drafts I read usually have him going to the Eagles with the 15th overall pick but with the Eagles trading for DeMeco Ryans their need for linebacking help has diminished and that’s a good thing for the Giants who can use help at the position, especially in the middle!
The 6’3”, 245-pound middle linebacker and former two-time All-American would help fill a big hole for the Giants. Chase Blackburn came back to the Giants during the middle of the season to help solidify the MLB position after Jon Goff’s season ending pre-season injury but there’s a chance neither player will return to the squad next year and that would leave untested Greg Jones atop the depth chart. Ideally undrafted free agent Mark Herzlich would be able to take over the position but he also batted injury problems last year.
If the Giants are able to land Kuechly they would be bringing in the man who replaced Herzlich at Boston College after Herzlich missed all of the 2009 season due to his battle with cancer. Eventually Herzlich returned and the two were able to play with each other. That camaraderie the two share would not only be a boon to the Giants off the filed but also on it as they have a familiarity playing beside each other. It’s not very often that two dominating college linebackers get to continue their pro careers together and it would make for a nice combo for the Giants’ linebacking rotation.
Kuechly showed off a lot of athleticism at the combine and you can see that in the numbers he posted:
- 4.49 40-yard-dash
- 27 bench-press reps of 225 lbs.
- 38-inch vertical leap
- 4.12 20-yard shuttle time
- 3-cone drill completed in 6.92 seconds
- 10’3” broad jump
Damn, that’s impressive! Quarterbacks would not only be afraid to see Kuechly rush at them from the blindside but they’d also be wary of throwing over the top of his head with that vertical leap; he could easily get an interception as he would a sack on a QB! That’s the type of linebacker the Giants need to get. He also showed during his BC playing days that he’s a beast when it comes to tackling and in his three-year stint with the Eagles he made a total of 532 tackles, which averaged out to 14 tackles/game, 7.9 of those 14 were solo tackles.
Below are the pros and cons from NFLMockDraft.com’s scouting profile on Kuechly so that you can get a little more insight on the man:
Pros–Good size…great instincts…tackling machine…smart kid…team leader…very sharp…performs under pressure…can play sideline to sideline because of instincts and speed… very aggressive against the run…solid in coverage limitations…relentless…extremely productive…making more plays in the backfield this year
Cons–Plays on a terrible team, or not a very good team…up tackles at an alarming rate, but very low percentage come behind the line of scrimmage (in 2010 and also 2011, but less so)…only three career sacks so not a great interior pass rusher, or he is not used in that way a lot.
Kuechly isn’t the first linebacker that has been linked to the Giants in mock drafts during the season and he won’t be the last. Previous linebacking names you’ve seen me talk about include Courtney Upshaw from Alabama, Zach Brown out of North Carolina, Oklahoma’s Travis Lewis, Manti Te’o from Notre Dame and Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict.
Other than Te’o though, who’s staying at Notre Dame for another year, I wasn’t enamored with any of the linebackers that were being mocked to the Giants in previous installments of TWIMD that I had written about. That all changes with Kuechly and he’s one name that I would really like to see play on the Giants next year.
Sure, he might not be able to get to the quarterback a whole lot, with only 2.5 career sacks in three years at BC, but with the bevy of defensive ends the Giants have that won’t matter as much. Kuechly is an athletically gifted player with smarts and that’s something you need from an inside linebacker in the pros. This is what Kuechly said about his play:
“I think I’m a smart player. I think I do a pretty good job preparing myself; that’s something I take pride in. Being prepared, and knowing what each individual guy is responsible for. I can point at different guys, and let them know what they’re doing if they have questions. I take pride in having the ability to do that. And doing that, and knowing what everyone is doing, you can play faster. It allows you to be more successful.”
I don’t know about you but I think Kuechly would fit right into the Giants’ system. The fact that he has BC blood in him doesn’t hurt his chances of being picked by the Giants. What do you Giants fans out there say? Do you like Kuechly? Would you be happy if he lasted till the end of the first round and the Giants took him? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!