By: Steve Johnson
Leighton Vander Esch, LB Boise St.
6’4 1/4 256 33 7/8″ arms, 9 3/4″ hands
4.65 40, 39 1/2″ vert, 124″ broad jump
2015: 12 games. 20 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass break up, 1 FR
2016: 6 games. 27 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 int,
2017: 14 games. 141 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 int, 47 yards, 5 pass break ups, 4 FF
Misc. Stats: 1 car on a fake punt for 10 yards in 2015
Accolades: 2017 First-team All-Mountain West, 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year
Injuries: Had multiple injuries in 2016
History: Played Quarterback and Linebacker in eight man football attending Salmon River High School in Riggins, Idaho. Also played basketball. Walked on at Boise St and redshirted in 2014.
Strengths: Ideal size, tall with long arms. Athletic, can run with tight ends and backs. Former basketball player has great agility, tested well in the 3-cone and 20 yard shuttle. Breaks well on the ball. Rangy, can run sideline to sideline. Good eyes to read the quarterback. Underrated pass rusher, could be used on the edge as well. Can make quick cuts to navigate through blockers on his way to the ball carrier.
Weaknesses: Experience, only a one year starter in the Mountain West, played 8 man football in high school. Could add some bulk to a somewhat thin frame. Needs some work on wrapping up the tackle. Can get swallowed up by blockers. Needs to work on disengaging. Overall strength needs to be improved.
Overview: Vander Esch has ideal size and athleticism to be an every down linebacker. He has limited playing experience and needs to work on his strength. Vander Esch is a borderline first round talent, that may need a year in an NFL locker room to get up to full speed.
Draft Projection: Late 1st Round/Early Day 2
Phanaddict Draft Grade: 6.15
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