About this series: Leading up to April's NFL draft, I'll be chatting regularly with Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. This is the fourth installment. Click here for the first part. Here for the second part. And here for the third part.
In late February, Luke Kuechly spent four days in Indianapolis trying to impress NFL coaches, scouts and personnel men.
Last Wednesday, during his Pro Day at Boston College, he spent only about 20 minutes on the football field in front of observers.
"It went well," Kuechly said during a phone interview. "I didn't really do a whole lot except for the position drills since everything went well at the combine."
Considering he ran a 4.58 40 at the combine and answered whatever questions existed about his athleticism, Kuechly didn't really have a lot to prove this time around. Pro Days often give prospects who didn't perform well in Indy (or weren't invited to the combine) a second chance to prove themselves.
But last Wednesday was just another part of the process, one that really could not have gone any smoother for Kuechly, who has established himself as the top inside linebacker on the board, according to Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper and most others.
Next up for Kuechly are team visits. The only one he had scheduled as of Thursday was with the Carolina Panthers at the end of last week.
"They just want to know where you can play, where you feel comfortable playing, this position over that position," Kuechly said. "They'll just ask me some football questions. I take it as it comes and go from there."
Kiper has Kuechly going to the Chiefs at No. 11 in his most recent mock draft. Don Banks of SI.com thinks Kansas City will take Kuechly too. But Wes Bunting of the National Football Post has him falling to the Ravens at No. 29.
"That stuff changes so often," Kuechly said, confirming that he doesn't pay much attention to the projections. "One day they've got you here, another day here, so I've just got to relax and wait for that day to come."
Prior to the Eagles' trade for DeMeco Ryans, many projections had them taking Kuechly at No. 15.
"Yeah, I saw that, my buddy told me about it, and when I talked to coach [Eagles linebackers coach Mike] Caldwell, he mentioned it too," Kuechly said. "It's one of those things where you can only control what you can control. He's a real good player."
While the Birds' chances of taking Kuechly have decreased, they are still likely to add more linebacking help - either in free agency or the draft. Caldwell ran Kuechly through on-field drills at the Pro Day.
"A lot of the stuff I had done at BC mimicked the drills he did," Kuechly said. "Change of direction, get in a pass route, shuffling, reaction stuff."
Kuechly said he's open to playing wherever the coaches on his new team want him. He played outside at the WILL position as a freshman before taking over the MIKE spot and said the only real difference in BC's system was that the MIKE made the calls.
The free-agent market for linebackers was slow to develop in the past few weeks. Stephen Tulloch eventually re-signed with the Lions, and Curtis Lofton moved from the Falcons to the Saints. Linebackers are now being asked to spend more time dropping back in coverage, in addition to playing the run - something that's not lost on Kuechly.
"People have said you've got to be able to play all three downs in both the run and the pass game, cover tight ends, running backs too," Kuechly said. "You work on stuff you're not as good at and get better."
So, is he a three-down player?
"That's definitely the goal and where I need to be," he said.
Kuechly will spend the coming weeks before the draft in his hometown of Cincinnati. He'll work out at his high school and spend time with his family in between visits to interested teams.
"We've only got a month left. There'll be a lot of time to sit around and wait for it to come," he said. "I've done everything I wanted to do. Now just got to relax and wait for that day to get here."
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