About this series: Leading up to April's NFL draft, I'll be chatting regularly with Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.
Luke Kuechly better hope he gets good cell phone reception in his parents' basement.
Because that's where the Boston College linebacker will be watching the first round of the NFL draft.
"I'll just be at Cincinnati in my house, hanging out here," he said during a phone interview this week. "We’ve got a bunch of family coming over, so we'll just take it easy and see what happens."
Considered by most to be the top inside linebacker prospect in the draft and a first-round pick, Kuechly declined an invitation to go to New York City. Instead, he'll hang out with older brother John, younger brother Henry and about 35 other family members, watching on TV at the house he's lived in since he was 4 years old.
Soon there will be a new home for Kuechly. NFL.com's Mike Mayock has him going to the Bills at No. 10. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projects Kuechly to get taken a pick earlier, at No. 9, to the Panthers. And Peter King of SI.com has him going to the Chiefs at No. 11.
"It’s still a waiting game," Kuechly said. "There’s only so much you can do, so I’m just waiting for the day to get here. Hopefully somebody gives you a call early on."
As for official visits, Kuechly spent time with the Panthers, Titans, Bengals and Bills.
While inside linebackers generally don't carry a lot of value in the first round, Kuechly may be an exception because of his cover skills. He didn't play a lot of man in college, but drew high praise from Mayock for his instincts in zone.
"I think he's the best pure zone drop pass linebacker I've ever seen on tape," Mayock said recently. "What usually knocks inside linebackers down is their inability to stay on the field for three plays. It's the opposite with Kuechly. He will excel in sub-packages."
For that reason, perhaps the Eagles would still consider him with the 15th pick. They acquired DeMeco Ryans to play the middle earlier this offseason, but Kuechly said he's comfortable playing on the outside.
"You’ve gotta be ready to play wherever they need you, and do whatever they need you to do," Kuechly said. "It doesn’t really matter to me."
If the Eagles were to take a shot on him, the plan would likely be to start Kuechly out at the SAM and eventually have him replace Ryans in the middle. The past couple years, the Birds have rotated several linebackers in and out in base and nickel packages. With Ryans and Kuechly, that wouldn't be necessary.
"I would be excited," he said about the possibility of playing in Philadelphia. "That’s a great area. I’d really be excited anywhere. You can’t choose in this process."
The process began on Jan. 6 when Kuechly announced he'd be skipping his senior year and entering the draft. He spent weeks in Florida training for the combine and answered any questions about his athleticism in Indy. The tape is strong too, as Kuechly led the nation in tackles each of the past two seasons. Now, he finally gets to find out what's next.
"It’s been however many weeks since I made the decision," Kuechly said. "It's been a huge process, and now I get to see what happens."
Click here for Part One of this series. Here for Part Two. Here for Part Three. And here for Part Four.
Click here for my earlier post on the Eagles' 32 first-round options. And don't forget I'll be live chatting tonight at 8. And visit our special section for complete NFL draft coverage.
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