The rankings are determined by the results of an offseason poll organized by the NFL, through which players vote for their peers based on the previous season's play and how they believe the player will perform during the upcoming season.
Kuechly, who led the league in tackles as a rookie in 2012, has as much upside as arguably any player on the entire list. The former ninth-overall pick out of Boston College immediately became the staple of the Carolina defense, wowing spectators with his uncanny football instincts throughout a remarkable first NFL season (see highlights below).
In addition to making an eye-popping 164 tackles, the 6-3, 235-pound Cincinnati, Ohio, native recorded three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and one sack for the Panthers last season.
Fellow linebacker Jon Beason describes Kuechly as possessing the full complement of skills.
"He can run, he's a great tackler, and he's also good in pass coverage – so pick your poison," Beason said in the episode.
Beason also wasn't shy about saying just how good he believes Kuechly is.
"I think he's arguably one of the best – if not the best – Mike linebacker in the NFL today," he added.