Originally Posted by cmarq83
That first statement is blatantly false, maybe the coaches feel more comfortable with Beason and Anderson because they're veterans, but Kuechly was an outstanding pass coverage LB in college and played well in that area in camp and preseason. There has been nothing that he has done so far in the NFL that would suggest that he doesn't cover all that well.
Just because he was a good pass coverage LB in college doesn't mean he will be one in the NFL.
And for the record, I thought he was a very overrated pass coverage LB at Boston College. I saw him getting beaten time and again by TEs and WRs in zone coverage.
As to your second point meh, look at a division like the AFC East Kyle Love, Sione Pouha, Kyle Williams, and Paul Soliai were all picked later than the 3rd round, and all of them are above average DT's. Geno Atkins was a 4th round pick a couple of years ago, and pass rushing specialists like Crick and Wolfe lasted past the 1st round this season. Even some quality DT's have hit the market in the past few years like Red Bryant, Jason Jones, Kendall Langford, Barry Cofield, and Cullen Jenkins. The Panthers have had their chance to grab some of them, and just because they didn't address it with their first round pick this year doesn't mean that they missed out on their only opportunity to add a quality DT.
Look at the elite pass rushers (DT, DE, or OLB) in the NFL today:
- Jason Pierre Paul: #15 pick in 2010 draft
- Justin Smith: #4 pick in 2001 draft
- Ndamukong Suh: #2 pick in 2010 draft
- Calais Campbell: #50 pick in 2008 draft
- Chris Long: #2 pick in 2008 draft
- JJ Watt: #11 pick in 2011 draft
- Clay Matthews: #26 pick in 2009 draft
- Brian Orakpo: #13 pick in 2009 draft
- Lamarr Woodley: #46 pick in 2007 draft
- Jason Babin: #27 pick in 2004 draft
- Aldon Smith: #7 pick in 2011 draft
- Dwight Freeney: #11 pick in 2002 draft
- Von Miller: #2 pick in 2011 draft
- Ryan Kerrigan: #16 pick in 2011 draft
- Haloti Ngata: #12 pick in 2006 draft
- DeMarcus Ware: #11 pick in 2005 draft
- Terrell Suggs: #10 pick in 2003 draft
- Julius Peppers: #2 pick in 2002 draft
I feel pretty confident in calling that list a mostly complete list of all of the NFL's best pass rushing DTs, DEs, or OLBs. Do you see something in common there? The vast majority were selected very high in the draft. Only four of those players I listed were picked outside of the top 16. To acquire elite pass-rushing talent, you simply have to pick one of the guys with a high draft pick. If you do have that high draft pick, it makes sense to spend it on a more valuable, harder-to-obtain position (DT, DE, 34 OLB) than a less valuable, easier to obtain position (ILB). Because you might not have that opportunity to select the elite pass rusher again. Those beastly Pierre-Paul / Ngata / Ware types don't come around very often, and when you have the *opportunity* to grab one, you had better take advantage of it.
Kuechly was a safer and probably going to turn out as a great pick. Cox and Brockers are much bigger risks, and had they been on the field last night instead of Kuechly the outcome most likely would have been exactly the same.
Maybe the outcome is the same, maybe it's not as bad. But in the end, a good DT/DE is always more valuable, and harder to find, than a good LB. In the long run, the right choice in the 1st round is almost always the defensive lineman, even if the DL pick is not always the safest, because the payout is always better.