In our annual 32 picks in 32 days CSNPhilly.com mock draft, we select one player each day until the start of the NFL draft on April 26.
12. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College, 6-3242
So far, the Seahawks have had a very productive off-season, addressing two of their top three needs at QB and DL.
Seattle signed Matt Flynn to be their new starting QB, and despite the rhetoric that he'll have to compete with Tarvaris Jackson in training camp, he'll be their starter Week 1. Flynn may have a little Kevin Kolb hype in him, but he's certainly an upgrade over the erratic Jackson. They've also solidified their defensive line by re-signing their top free agent in run-stuffing DE Red Bryant, as well as bringing in DT Jason Jones from Tennessee to add a pass rush element to their already tough interior. These moves allow the Seahawks to address their now most glaring need: linebacker.
The Seahawks lost their starting MLB, David Hawthorne, to the Saints in free agency. You may remember him taking a Vince Young pass back for a score last season. Hawthorne wasn't a superstar, and had bad knees, but he was physical and smart. Rookie sensation K.J. Wright most likely will move inside from strong-side linebacker to take Hawthorne's place, but that leaves special team-caliber LBs Heath Farewell and Adrian Moten as potential starters outside. For a team gunning for the 49ers, that just won't do.
Kuechly is the by far the most instinctual LB in this year's draft. His ability to flow to the ball is incredible. Watch any Boston College game and the sheer number of times he's in on tackles is amazing. It's like the old Bugs Bunny cartoon -- catcher Bugs Bunny, left field Bugs Bunny, right field Bugs Bunny -- Kuechly is everywhere.
The knock on him before the combine was his lack of athleticism, but I just didn't see it. He made plays all over the field. Inside. Outside. In coverage. You can't be a bad athlete and be that productive, and his performances at both the Combine and his pro day proved that. He ran a 4.58 40 and showed his strength by putting up 27 reps on the bench press. His size (6-3242) is solid, and while not a Ray Lewis-type hitter, Kuechly doesn't miss many tackles; he has outstanding technique.
From an intangibles perspective, you can't help but love him. Playing for some dismal B.C. teams, I dare you to find tape of Kuechly dogging it, regardless of the score.
The Seahawks could plug him in immediately on the strong side or in the middle if they decide Wright is a better fit outside. He may not be the flashiest player available, but if you want someone to contribute Day 1 and make a positive impact, Kuechly is the man in Seattle.
Jared Sherman has been providing CSNPhilly.com with draft analysis since 2000. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Phillyjared.