Adam Schefter on D&C: Panthers’ Luke Kuechly arguably NFL’s best ILB
|11.18.13 at 9:26 am ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan Monday to discuss the Patriots’ matchup with the Panthers and news from around the NFL.
New England and Carolina square off on Monday night in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers, backed by a stellar defense, enter the bout with a surprising 6-3 record. At the helm of that defense is middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, the former Boston College standout.
“I think if Luke Kuechly were to be in the draft again today, I think he’d be a top-three pick, not a top-nine pick,” Schefter said. “The way he’s played and his upside has exceeded what some people thought he might do, to the point now where you could easily make the argument, I believe, that he’s the best inside linebacker in the game.”
Kuechly, the 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, leads the team with 75 tackles, and he has three interceptions.
“Everyone in the Boston area knows how great he was at Boston College, and he’s just picked up right where he left off in the NFL and taken it to another level,” Schefter said. “And the Patriots are going to taste that tonight.”
The Panthers sit 1 1/2 games behind behind the Saints in the NFC South and hold the first wild card spot.
“I haven’t seen it enough to feel confident where I say, ‘Yes, Super Bowl contender, legitimate,’ ” Schefter said. “Now if they go and beat the Patriots tonight, my answer 24 hours from now might be a little different than today, but I can say they’re a legitimate playoff team, a strong team, a team I’m very impressed by, but I don’t know if I can group them with the rest of those other teams right now.”
After the Patriots face Carolina, they will begin to prepare for one of the most anticipated regular-season games of the season, a matchup with the Broncos. The game features a number of intriguing storylines: arguably the best two teams in the AFC; Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady; and Wes Welker possibly facing the team he departed this offseason.
Welker reportedly suffered a concussion in Denver’s 27-17 win over the Chiefs on Sunday night, putting his availability for next Sunday’s game in doubt.
“Knowing his history, and I mean his toughness and how he’s been out there, knowing the stakes … my guess is that he’d be out there,” Schefter said. “But the doctors are going to determine whether he’s going to be healthy.”
The Jonathan Martin saga continued this week when the lineman met with NFL investigator Ted Wells to discuss the alleged bullying inflicted upon him by his Dolphins teammates.
“Details have been incredibly sparse from that meeting, and anything that we talk about from that meeting would be strictly conjecture,” Schefter said. “But I think we all could speculate exactly on some of those that were said in that meeting. If you’re the Miami Dolphins and you get the update that Jonathan Martin has just concluded more than seven hours of meetings with Ted Wells, that’s not the message you want to get.”
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