Luke Kuechly’s shocking retirement could have the Carolina Panthers targeting Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons in the 2020 NFL draft
The NFL Playoffs aren’t done yet, but the offseason is already kicking off with a shocking development, as Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly announced his retirement after just eight seasons Tuesday night.
A five-time first-team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler, Kuechly has been considered the gold standard at his position for most of his career. His unexpected retirement immediately leaves a gigantic void at the heart of the Carolina defense, both on the field and in the locker room.
That could leave the Panthers targeting his replacement early in the 2020 NFL draft, and they’ll have a worthy target in Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons.
A Swiss Army knife of a defensive weapon, Simmons lined up all over the field for the Tigers, making plays from the edge, off the ball, and even as a defensive back. His rare combination of size, athleticism and explosiveness have made him one of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers on defense, and Tigers did a fantastic job of maximizing his unique skill set.
The Panthers currently hold the No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, which is in perfect range to land Simmons, especially if multiple quarterbacks come off the board ahead of them. With LSU’s Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert all having a solid chance of going in the top six picks, chances are high that Simmons would still be on the board for Carolina at No. 7.
A player like Kuechly is never completely replaced, but if the Panthers can land Simmons, his absence would be far less noticeable, for the 2020 season and beyond.