Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are two of the three best linebackers in the NFL at this moment, according to football analytics site Pro Football Focus.
PFF released its linebacker grades Tuesday evening and had Kuechly tops among all linebackers and Davis at No. 3.
New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower checked in at No. 2.
PFF assigned Kuechly with a grade of 92.3 on a 1-to-100 scale. Davis earned a grade of 90.2. A grade between 90-to-100 is worthy of superstar status, according to PFF.
“Our rating is how good a player is right now,” PFF states on its ‘How we grade’ section. “Not last season. Not two weeks ago. Right now. It is represented through a 1 to 100 scale and we use a weighted depreciation over the past two years with more weight given to recent games.”
It appears the grading will be updated throughout the season week-by-week.
Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Kuechly has already earned the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award. He’s led the league in tackles twice and has twice been named a first-team All Pro.
Davis, despite being in the league for 11 seasons, has had less acclaim. He’s never gone to a Pro Bowl or been named an All Pro as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense that doesn’t get the type of stats a pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker would.
He was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year winner in February.
PFF has released rankings for linebackers, edge defenders, running backs and interior defenders. So far two other Panthers have been included in the top 10 at their positions, with Jonathan Stewart earning an 83 grade (good for seventh among RBs) and defensive tackle Kawann Short a grade of 87.6 (good for ninth among interior defenders).