Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
Who is the 6-foot-four-inch 256 pound, Leighton Vander Esch?
Vander Esch was the 2017 Mountain West All-Conference First Team, 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, and the 2017 MVP of the Mountain West Championship Game, forego his senior year and declared for the 2018 NFL Draft. He recorded 141 tackles (8 ½ tackles for losses), four sacks, broke up four passes and had three interceptions his junior year. At the 2018 NFL Combine, Vander Esch increased his draft value with an impressive workout. He leads four of the skill drills, recording a 39 ½ -inch vertical, leaped 10-foot-4 in the broad jump, 6.88 in the three-cone drill, and a superb 4.15 in the 60-yard shuttle run. At 6-foot-4 and weighing 256 pounds, he also ran an impressive 4.65 in the forty. NFL scouts predict Vander Esch to be a mid-first round selection in the draft.
Leighton Vander Esch Highlights
Has excellent size, impressive length, and great instincts for a linebacker. Recognize plays and the ball well. Very disciplined, not easily fooled and recognized play action passes. Ability to keep the play in front of him. Has the versatility to play both the inside and outside linebacker positions, and the ability to play all three downs. Ability to break up passes or intercept the ball. Ability to strip the ball from the runner, and forced fumbles. Good sideline to sideline tackler and wraps with just about all tackles. A sure tackler and has the ability to regain if over pursues.
Vander Esch had only one year of productivity at linebacker playing at Boise State, he was injured half of the 2016 season. Issues with fighting off blocks of offensive lineman. Has a habit taking on lead blockers instead of using his hand to fight off the blocks to make tackles. Plays with a high motor on every down, but over pursuit plays causing to miss tackles. Feet are slightly choppy which may cause him to be a step late. Good pass rusher at the NCAA level, but need to find a new repertoire at the next level. Ability to cover in deep zones exposes weakness, allowing receivers to get open at the second level. Will benefit by adding more muscles to his frame to extend his career.
How is he a fit for the Rams?
Rams traded linebacker Robert Quinn to the Miami Dolphins, and linebacker Mark Barron, may be on the move as well, Vander Esch can be a great addition to the Rams linebacker corps. Samson Ebukam and Corey Littleton, both may be starters this season as Alec Ogletree will return starting inside. Vander Esch versatility will allow Wade Phillips to play him at any of the linebacking positions. Can be a tremendous run stopper, and will be a perfect fit for as a standup edge.
Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals
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