There hasn’t been a better tackler in college football over the past two seasons than Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. He led the nation both seasons, including piling up 191 takedowns this past season. He finished with more than 500 tackles for his career and now it’s time to take that ability to the next level. While we found out Thursday that it appears quarterback Andrew Luck is officially going to Indianapolis, the draft after the top two picks isn’t nearly as clear. Mock drafts seem to have him going just outside the top 10, perhaps to Kansas City at 11 or Seattle at 12. Or, as is suggested in the following interview, perhaps a team could trade up for the prolific tackler.
Luke Kuechly joined WNST in Baltimore with Glenn Clark to discuss the excitement for the draft, playing with Mark Herzlich, how he describes himself as a player, what he needs to work on, weird questions leading up to the draft and middle linebackers as leaders.
Has the excitement for the draft built up at this point?:
“It’s one of those things that we’ve been waiting for awhile and it’s a week away and everyone’s looking forward to seeing what happens. … I don’t think [playing in the NFL] has quite hit me yet. I think it’s going to probably hit me when we start heading out to the places and kind of get settled in and finally start working out with the different teams.”
What was it like for you to play alongside Mark Herzlich for part of your college career?:
“The thing with Mark, I came in my freshman year and that’s when he was sitting out that year. The thing with Mark is he had so much passion and desire. Even though he wasn’t playing, I think he was one of the vocal leaders on the team, just getting everybody going. I think coming in you see a guy like that, who’s that motivated even though he’s not playing, it’s an inspiration for everyone.”
How would you describe yourself as a player?:
“I think I’m an instinctive player. … I just go out there, trying not to think too much and just go out there and let yourself play football. That’s kind of how I’ve been, just having fun playing football out there and it comes to me. I try not to divulge myself too much in what’s going on.”
What areas do you think you need to improve on as you move to the next level?:
“I need to work on there’s a lot of things I didn’t do at B.C. I didn’t do a lot of man coverage. That’s going to be big moving forward. I didn’t blitz a whole lot. Those are things, moving forward, that I need to work on to be more complete.”
Is there anything that has caught you off guard about the whole evaluation process leading up to the draft?:
“They do ask you a lot of weird questions. You take a lot of the psychology tests and they ask you weird questions. … It’s like taking the SAT again. You’ve got to sit in a room, you’ve got a Scantron, you’ve got to bubble all the letters in and there’s hundreds of questions asking you all kinds of stuff that you don’t have any idea how it has to deal with football at all.”
Middle linebacker is a position where it just seems that most players become a leader. Do you try to establish that early on in your NFL career?:
“You’ve got to come in with that mindset, but you’ve got to earn the respect from the guys that have been there before. You can’t just walk in and be big man on campus. You’ve got to earn your spot, earn everyone’s respect and you’ve got to know what you’re doing so you’re not telling people the wrong thing. I think, for me, if you’re going to try to correct people, you’ve got to make sure whatever you’re doing is 100 percent right before doing other things.”