Kuechly makes a big impression, so far

AP

Like many other franchises, the Panthers have a very good offense and a defense that needs to improve not by much to make the team into a serious contender.

Limited in free agency by the salary cap, the Panthers launched that process by using the ninth overall pick in the draft on former Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.

So far, Kuechly has been everything the Panthers had hoped.

According to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com, Kuechly has been making plays consistently.

He’s been as advertised,’’ tackle Jordan Gross said.  “He’s got a nose for the ball and he throws his body around, and that’s what you want out of a linebacker.  One thing that stands out is that when he blitzes, he rushes the passer, he doesn’t just blitz and stop if a lineman picks him up.  He’s got moves, and his effort is good.  If you get your hands on him, he wants to get off there and make a play.  He doesn’t really act like a rookie at all.’’

Kuechly, a middle linebacker at B.C., has embraced his new position on the outside, with Jon Beason in the middle.

Overall, the defense doesn’t need to do much to transform the Panthers into a playoff team.  If Kuechly can do for the defense this year what Cam Newton did for the offense last year, center Ryan Kalil’s full-page prediction could be coming to fruition.