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Cowboys news: It’s Leighton Vander Esch at 19, while Roger Goodell remains ever so popular

Reactions and analysis of the first Dallas pick, plus other tidbits from day 1.

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official. Leighton Vander Esch (or LVE) is the first pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here are some headlines and reactions to the pick, and some other news to keep you up to date.

Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys draft dynamic linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in Round 1; how he fits | SportsDay staff
Dallas seems to believe that the loss of Anthony Hitchens had to be handled early.

The Cowboys would likely play him similar to the way they used Anthony Hitchens, who signed with Kansas City in free agency. There are also questions of health at linebacker with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

Hitchens was a starting middle linebacker with the ability to play all three linebacker positions in Dallas' 4-3 scheme.

"They could play me anywhere, to be honest," Vander Esch said. "I feel like I'm versatile enough and athletic enough to be able to handle any position they throw me in. I'll take on whatever they give me and go from there."

Dallas Cowboys: Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch taken No. 19 | Clarence Hill, Jr, Ft Worth Star-Telegram
The reactions in the draft room were very pleased as Vander Esch was available for the Cowboys when they went on the clock, and that may be because this was the plan all along.

The Dallas Cowboys felt all along the 2018 NFL Draft would set up right for them.

With so much focus on the quarterbacks early on, they felt the player they wanted would fall to them at No. 19.

Things turned at just as the Cowboys hoped as Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was on the board when it came their turn to pick.

Dallas Cowboys select Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch | Dave Southorn and Michael Katz, Idaho Statesman
There's no doubt that his home town was pretty excited for LVE.

From 8-man football in high school to a walk-on at Boise State, and now, a first-round NFL Draft pick.

Former Broncos linebacker Leighton Vander Esch on Thursday was selected 19th in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys.

Vander Esch, the 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, was among 22 players invited to attend the draft in Arlington, Texas. Meanwhile, 1,500 miles away in his hometown of Riggins, dozens of locals gathered for a watch party and celebrated his selection. Signs throughout the town of barely more than 400 read "Leighton is our No. 1 pick."

Cowboys Take Leighton Vander Esch in NFL Draft; OU's Baker Mayfield Goes No. 1 - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth staff
Just as important as who the Cowboys took was who they didn't. A majority of mocks had Dallas taking someone like Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, or Courtland Sutton to replace Dez Bryant, but they didn't.

The Dallas Cowboys passed on filling a need a wide receiver during the first night of the NFL Draft and selected Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, a late bloomer who didn't play 11-man football in high school.

Dallas Cowboys: Talks with Earl Thomas continue | Clarence Hill, Jr, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The long discussed idea of Dallas trading for Earl Thomas is still very much alive - but maybe not all that likely.

The Dallas Cowboys remain interested in a trade for Seattle Seahawks cornerback Earl Thomas.

But there remain a lot of moving parts for that to happen.

The Cowboys have already backed away from the Seahawks' original asking price of a first and third-round pick. Dallas will not offer anything higher than a second-round selection. The second and third rounds of the draft are Friday

And then there is the matter of Thomas' contract demands.

Study: Football players drafted by Dallas Cowboys gain more social media followers | John Kopp, PhillyVoice
Here's an interesting extra benefit players get when they are picked by the Cowboys.

Football players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night likely will see their social media accounts increase by thousands and thousands of followers.

And those players' social media followings will really skyrocket if they are fortunate enough to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys or New England Patriots.

Roger Goodell will have human boo shields on Thursday night – Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
The NFL had an inkling that the crowd at AT&T Stadium might be heavy with Cowboys fans, and that could lead to an even more hostile reception for commissioner Roger Goodell than usual. So they came up with a plan to mute things a bit.

Booing the Commissioner at the draft has become part of the experience in recent years, due in large part to the fact that the Commissioner’s coping mechanism periodically consists of encouraging it. On Thursday night, the NFL will try to discourage it, based on the people who are sent to the stage with Roger Goodell.

Via, Goodell will be accompanied by Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, and future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten.

“I’m sure he’s going to get a good response with us being out there,” Staubach said. “If they boo, all of us are in trouble.”

Roger Goodell booed despite Cowboys flanking him with legends - Partik Walker, 247 Sports
Yeah, that didn't work.

Roger Goodell just got torn to shreds despite the Dallas Cowboys trying to prevent it.

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion this would be the case entering the 2018 NFL Draft, but the commissioner probably couldn't imagine just how vocal Cowboys' fans would be when he first took the stage.

Fans Flock to Lone Star State for Historic NFL Draft - Wes Rapaport, KXAN
Roger Goodell may have not been very popular, but the first draft hosted in the metroplex looks to be a smash hit.

Tens of thousands from across the country are expected in Texas as the National Football League Draft makes history by taking place in an NFL stadium for the first time.

The Dallas Cowboys host the draft Thursday through Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, bringing attention to North Texas. Organizers said they were excited to have millions of eyes on the region, from visitors and television viewers.

"It's coverage, it's television, it's economic impact, it's people staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants, doing a little shopping, having a great time and using social media to tell us what a great time they had at the NFL Draft and NFL experience, and saying they can't wait until they get back to North Texas," Dallas Sports Commission executive director Monica Paul said.

Fans were endlessly entertained both outside and inside the gigantic venue.

"I'm just glad to be here, this is awesome," Kansas City Chiefs fan Matt Johnson said.

New York Giants' 2018 draft: Analysis for every selection - New York Giants Blog- Jordan Raanan, ESPN
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the league, there were some surprises on the night, starting with the selection of Baker Mayfield first overall by the Cleveland Browns. The New York Giants, picking second, went with RB Saquon Barkley, and while many projected this, it still comes with some questions.

My take: The Giants bypassed quarterback Sam Darnold -- never even contemplated him -- in lieu of the top player on their board. General manager Dave Gettleman said Barkley was his highest-graded player since Peyton Manning in 1997. Barkley will make the Giants better. He’s a tremendous player who can do it all. The Giants raved about his skill set. Gettleman said it was as if he was “touched by the hands of God.” But Eli Manning is 37 years old, and Darnold was taken with the very next pick by the crosstown Jets. Darnold and Barkley are eternally linked. This decision will be debated for years to come.

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