Boise State Linebacker to Enter the Draft

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

After initially giving indications he would stay at Boise State for his senior season, Leighton Vander Esch has decided to enter the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s a decision most scouts agree with, as do we at Draft Analyst.

Sources tell me Vander Esch received a second-round grade from the advisory committee, the same round we’ve graded him with for over a month now. Truth be told we think that may change come draft day.

Scouts believe Vander Esch is the player people are sleeping on at the linebacker position, as many have compared him to former NFL star Brian Urlacher -- another Mountain West product. There is a belief Vander Esch could end up sliding into the bottom half of Round 1. As we reported back in November, the Week 11 riser was described by many in the scouting community as a special player at the next level.

One look at his performance in the Las Vegas Bowl tells you why.

Vander Esch played like a man possessed, finishing the game with 12 tackles, three  tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. He made plays sideline to sideline and was a one-man wrecking crew during the Broncos' 10-point victory over Oregon. It was the eighth time this season he posted 10 or more tackles. 

One of the highlights of his next level potential was the Washington State contest when Vander Esch finished with 16 tackles, two tackles for loss and two sacks and forced a fumble.

He led the team with 141 tackles this season while also intercepting three passes and breaking up four more, a sure sign of his ability to be a three-down defender at the next level.

I’m told Vander Esch could run as fast as 4.6s in the 40 at the combine and post a vertical jump near 37 inches.

On film Vander Esch is everything an NFL team wants in a starting linebacker. He’s tough, instinctive and versatile and can stay on the field for any situation.