The Cowboys have been waiting a long time to add another star linebacker to their team. Over the last several years, they’ve tried to get there by rolling the dice and some things haven’t worked out as well as they’ve hoped. In 2014, they traded for former first-round pick Rolando McClain. He had a great first season with the Cowboys, but then faded as he had character issues that kept him off the field. He had the talent, but he just wasn’t the right kind of guy. Two years later, the team took a chance on Jaylon Smith after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in his last college game. Smith is the epitome of the right kind of guy, but unfortunately his body has yet to fully cooperate with him.
If only the could combine Jaylon’s mind with Rolando’s body.
Enter Leightion Vander Esch. Another two years have gone by since the Smith pick and the Cowboys are at it again. The Boise State linebacker was the top player on their board and they were very excited to get him. Here are five reasons why Vander Esch is a good pick for Dallas.
The ball, the ball, the ball. We’ve heard that mantra all too many times, but it cannot be overstated. In their post-draft press conference, Jerry Jones stole a comment from Will McClay and said, “that guy is going to get us turnovers.” Vander Esch moves around the field effortlessly and is an exceptional linebacker in coverage. In a passing league, this is a great type of player to have on your team.
Guys his size aren’t supposed to move like he does. At 6’4” and 250-pounds, Vander Esch is a lot bigger than many linebackers in this draft. He’s got great speed, quickness, and nice length to run down ball carriers. He can cover a lot of ground and come at you like a spider monkey. I don’t really know what that means, but check out his spider chart, courtesy of mockdraftable.com:
Usually a team has to choose between a player who is the better athlete or a player who has the better tape. Not with Leighton - he gives you both. His huge production in 2017 has people excited about what he can bring the defense and the best part is - he’s just getting started.
The Cowboys are slowly and surely shoring up all facets of their defense. Being able to land a playmaker at the linebacker position is a big win for their defense. With the recent boom of players like DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving on the defensive line, the addition of Vander Esch helps fortify the front seven. This Cowboys defense just got a whole lot better.
5. Right kind of guy
The Cowboys spent a lot of time with Vander Esch and they even had their player/coach linebacker star Sean Lee get a close look at him. Having an endorsement from 50 is a big plus. Vander Esch is a team captain and has came a long way since being a walk-on at Boise State. Jason Garrett and his coaching staff are set on building the team the right way and adding another “Garrett guy” is the right way to do it.