With the NFL’s top 100 well under way, we here at Real Sport thought we would give you our own version; The RS 100. Every writer here had the chance to vote for the 100 best players from the 2015 season. This ranking was done regardless of position value or salary cap cost. It was simply based on who had the best 2015 season. As a result you won’t see quality players like Jordy Nelson anywhere on our ranking as he didn’t play a single snap in the 2015 season.
Voting panel: Toby Durant, Remy Cabache, Cameron Tennyson, Rebecca Rennie, Daniel Hernandez, David Pruett, Ryan Tolster
Luke Kuechly, Inside Linebacker, Carolina Panthers
(TD: #4, RC: #13, CT: #11, RR: #4, DH: #11, DP: #10, RT: #22)
Where to even start with Luke Kuechly… He is our highest ranked full time linebacker and it is fully deserved.
While Kuechly missed three games in the middle of the season with a concussion he didn’t miss a beat on the field. His greatest strength has always been his unerring ability to ghost through and around blocks to the ball carrier. Despite those 3 games missed he still lead the team in tackles with 118 – including 7 for a loss despite doing minimal blitzing. His run defense is spectacular, but what separates him from all the other big, thumping run stuffers is that he stays on the field on 3rd down and is a huge plus in coverage as well. His range is exceptional, his instincts unparalleled. Kuechly tied second on the Panthers for interceptions with 4, and was second in passes defensed with 10. Carolina had the best defense against tight ends according to Football Outsiders and Kuechly is a huge reason why.
Here he is against Dallas, going down the seam with Jason Witten and taking the ball away.
Want to know what he did the next play?
He does it again only he takes this one to the house. This play is truly brilliant when you see it from behind the quarterback. He is tracking two players at once. Dropping over the middle with Witten but also watching the receiver on the outside. As soon as he sees the in cut Kuechly breaks on it and finds the football. He’s not focused on laying a hit or simply breaking up the pass. He wants the ball! Of course, that’s not to say he can’t deliver a hit when it’s required.
With Patrick Willis having ridden off into retirement Kuechly is alone at the top of Linebacker Mountain. And it’s a fairly long way down to the next guy.