The Carolina Panthers have one of the best quarterbacks in the league with Cam Newton and according to NFL.com they also have one of the most valuable players who don't play the quarterback position in linebacker Luke Kuechly. According to Chris Wesseling, Kuechly is the fifth most valuable non-quarterback in the NFL.
He wrote the following about the Panthers' middle linebacker:
5. Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers ask more of their linebackers than any team in the league, and Kuechly is driving force with freakish athleticism and the ability to process reads at an uncanny speed. His closing speed in the run game and range in the passing game jump off film, as evidenced by his Thanksgiving Day performance that ranks as one of the most impressive by a linebacker in the past half-decade. If not for Miller's MVP performance, we would have spent the offseason recounting Kuechly's own dominant playoff run.
There is no question that Kuechly has made an immediate impact with the Panthers since they selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has gone on to win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and then NFL Defensive Player of the Year the following season.
He also has been selected to the Pro Bowl and the First-Team All-Pro team the past three seasons. This past season may have been his best yet due to his play in the passing game as Wesseling mentions. He finished the regular season with four interceptions and added two more in the postseason, returning both of those for touchdowns.
This season though may be the biggest challenge for Kuechly as he will try to lead a defense with an inexperienced secondary.