Carolina Panthers: #NFLRank

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden recently mentioned Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly in the same breath as Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis, both future Hall of Famers.

He called him a "beast" in a Charlotte Observer feature.

So where is last year's Associated Press NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year, the player who led the league in tackles with 164, in ESPN's 2013 defensive player rankings?

Twenty-second.

He's sixth among all linebackers with Denver's Von Miller ranked No. 2 overall, San Francisco's Patrick Willis No. 3 overall, Green Bay's Clay Matthews No. 6 overall, San Francisco's Aldon Smith No. 10 overall and San Francisco's Navorro Bowman No. 18 overall.

Good thing Urlacher and Lewis retired or Kuechly might be a few notches lower.

I find it hard to believe there are 21 defensive players better than the former Boston College standout. What do you think?

Check out the entire defensive player rankings.

SPONSORED HEADLINES