The best middle linebacker in the NFC South resides in Carolina. With six professional seasons in the book, Luke Kuechly has established himself as an NFL superstar and is among the very best linebackers in all of football. Last year he was Pro Football Focus’s third best linebacker, and it wasn’t even his second or third most productive season. Kuechly’s 125 tackles were tenth most in the league and led the Panthers by a wide margin.
Kuechly is the best linebacker on the Panthers, but it wasn’t always that way. Long before the Panthers selected the Boston College product, there was Thomas Davis.
The elder statesman of the Panthers has been manning the weakside linebacker position since 2005. Alongside Kuechly, they have formed one of the best linebacker duos in the league. Davis has continued to play at a high level despite suffering a long list of injuries including three ACL tears.
Unfortunately for Carolina the 35-yea- old Davis has been suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season, so it’ll be on Kuechly and the other Panther linebackers to hold the line. Shaq Thompson has been the Panthers starting strongside linebacker for the previous three seasons and he improved across the board in 2017. His snaps will jump significantly in the absence of Davis. Taking Davis’s spot at weakside linebacker will be 24-year-old David Mayo, a 5th round pick with 47 career tackles.