Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Draft Prospect Outlook:
Oversized off-ball linebacker with immense athletic gifts. Straight-line speed is outstanding, and he's relatively smooth when changing directions. Lacking the refinement to defeat blocks to make plays on the football near the line. If kept clean, he can be a dynamic linebacker at the next level.
Vander Esch played quarterback and middle linebacker at Salmon River High School in Idaho before joining the Broncos in 2014 and redshirting his first year. Though he saw limited work over the next two seasons, including in 2016 due to injury, he did manage a sack in each season as well as an interception as a redshirt sophomore.
The linebacker put the injury issues behind him in 2017, racking up an incredible 141 tackles as a redshirt junior, which was the most at Boise State since 1988, and earning distinction as Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. Vander Esch also talled four sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions in his final season in Boise State, and finished his career with 12 tackles and a sack in the Las Vegas Bowl before declaring for the draft. -- R.J. White