The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off this week and Boston College's Luke Kuechly is in Indianapolis trying to improve his draft stock. To preview the Combine and get a look into the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft, we sat down with Dan Kadar, draftnik at SB Nation's NFL Draft blog Mocking The Draft. In the lead up to the NFL Draft on April 26-28, be sure to check out Mocking The Draft for all things NFL Draft.
Our questions and his answers below.
BC Interruption: Several of the mock drafts I've seen lately have LB Luke Kuechly as a mid first-round pick. Which NFL teams picking in the first round have a need for a linebacker with Kuechly's skillset?
Mocking The Draft: Everything in this year's NFL Draft regarding Luke Kuechly starts with the Philadelphia Eagles who have the No. 15 pick. They had one of the poorest linebacker groups in the NFL and Kuechly would help solidify the unit. The Tennessee Titans at 20 are an outside shot if they think he could move to the weak side. Really after Philadelphia, though, there's not a lot of teams in dire need of a player like Kuechly, who may not be scheme versatile.
BCI: Last year we saw Texas A&M LB Von Miller taken with the second overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. What is Kuechly's hypothetical ceiling in this year's NFL Draft?
MTD: The hypothetical ceiling is Philadelphia, but you could stretch and make an argument for Buffalo at No. 10. That would be highly unlikely, however.
BCI: How much will Kuechly's NFL Combine performance help or hurt his draft stock? My guess is his draft stock can't get much higher and he can only be hurt by a weaker performance in the Combine. Is this assessment accurate?
MTD: The Combine can help Kuechly some because since he's a junior no one knows his exact measurements. So he's a little bit of a mystery for some in that regard. No one is really sure how he'll time either. So it can helpful or hurtful. I think most expect him to run in the low 4.7 range. If he does better and has a good three-cone drill, he could inch higher in the draft.
BCI: What is Kuechly's NFL Draft floor? How far could you see him falling in this year's draft?
MTD: The trouble Kuechly will face is middle linebacker (especially guys who are 4-3 only players) tend to drop in the draft. We've seen it recently with James Laurinaitis, for instance. He's an excellent player, but he fell to the top of the second round. That's what we may see with Kuechly.
BCI: Kuechly was one of the most prolific backers in Boston College football history and the best LB to come around these parts in a long, long time. However, production at the collegiate level and in the NFL are two very different things. No discussion of a potential BC draft pick is complete without a mention of Mike Mamula. On a scale of 1 to Mamula, what's Kuechly's NFL draft bust factor?
MTD: The Mamula is maybe the greatest thing I've heard of. Trademark it before I do. But with Kuechly, the bust factor is extremely low. We know what he can do. He can diagnose plays extremely well, knows how to get to the ball carrier without getting caught on blocks and is a good tackler. The safest players in this year's draft are Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Stanford guard David DeCastro. Their bust factor would be the one. Kuechly is in the next group because his measured athleticism is unknown. So lets say a bustability of two.
BCI: Last one. Pre-Combine, where do you see Kuechly getting drafted? Does he fall past the Philadelphia Eagles at #15?
MTD: Like everyone else, I'll say Kuechly gets drafted by the Eagles.
BCI: Thanks again. For all things NFL Draft, be sure to check out Mocking The Draft.