Which Panthers player would you want on the Steelers?

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It's really not hard to come up with the answer, but we may as well ask the question.

Like most of you, the answer formed in my head right after about the fifth syllable.

Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly is one of the few purely dominant three-down linebackers in the NFL. And it's only his second year.

I remember thinking against all hope something happened that would cause Kuechly to embark on a free-fall of Moss and Marino-like proportions in the 2011 NFL Draft, allowing the Steelers to select him at No. 24.

I even attempted to spread rumors about him - from his alleged worship of inanimate objects to his insistence of refusing to fly to games (thanks, Royce White), none of the rumors stuck. He still went No. 9 overall. Perhaps he should have gone higher.

Inside linebackers are not typically seen as being valuable enough to draft in the top 10. In today's NFL, if you can't throw the ball, catch it, protect the guy throwing it, rush the guy throwing it or defend the guy catching it, odds aren't the best you'll be taken that highly.

Kuechly doesn't do any of the glamorous NFL-generated actions of today's superstar. He just does everything else. Having a player as versatile and as smart as he is gives the Panthers the ability to play in a variety of different looks, and lets their front four simply try to get penetration - Kuechly can clean up the mess for little or no gain.

Is it a surprise, one year after drafting Kuechly, the Panthers selected two defensive tackles - Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short - in the first and second rounds? Even if the three-down mike linebacker is a dying breed, Kuechly is the next great linebacker in this league.

And short of annexing him legally somehow (although that's likely barred in the courts), Kuechly won't be a Steeler. Fortunately, he won't be in the Steelers division, either.

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