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Leighton Vander Esch: 2018 NFL Draft Prospect Profile

The Cardinals could be moving defensive styles and the Boise State product could be a nice addition on day two.

LAS VEGAS BOWL Joe Jaszewski/Idaho Statesman/TNS via Getty Images

Leighton Vander Esch - Inside Linebacker
Boise State - Redshirt Senior
6’4’’, 240 Pounds

Good players on mediocre teams can typically get overlooked by scouts, but that’s not the case for Leighton Vander Esch, a star from Boise State. Probably the first time I heard his name was when he declared in January, and I think he made the correct decisions coming out. This kid made himself some money by coming out also.

Strengths: Seems like a natural inside linebacker but has the body to play outside linebacker. Smart against the opposing teams game plan, and never seems out of position to make a tackle. Instincts are off the charts, plays through the whistle, and hustles no matter what. Vander Esch seems like a team-first type of player, and I saw him throw his body around to make room for other teammates to make plays from the box. Honestly, just a solid team player. He’s also a turnover magnet, and someone who is able to cause deflections at the line of scrimmage.

Weaknesses: I didn’t see much as far as his ability to cover and seemed to get stuck diagnosing. Runs willingly to the ball but seems to get pushed out of his lane against big offensive tackles. Not great athleticism and seems to try to make up for that with maximum effort.

Cardinals Summary: Typically described as an inside linebacker, I’d love to get Leighton Vander Esch as an outside linebacker for the 4-3 defense. Teaching Vander Esch some pass rush moves could also help develop a bigger aspect to his game. Overall, he would be a luxury pick if you stuck him at inside, but definitely worth a look.

Projected: 2nd-3rd Round
Stats: 141 total tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 4 FF
Pro Comparison: Anthony Barr - Minnesota Vikings