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Prospect Profile: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch

Posted Mar 19, 2018

Leighton Vander Esch

Linebacker | Boise State | Redshirt junior

Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 256 pounds

College Stats

2017: started all 14 games at linebacker as the Broncos played in both a conference championship game and bowl game; recorded 141 total tackles with 8.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, four pass breakups, 4.0 sacks and four forced fumbles; named the 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year; Defensive MVP of Mountain West Championship Game; was a First-Team All-Mountain West selection; was a Fourth-Team All-American by Phil Steele

Career: played and started in 32 games in his college career; recorded 188 total tackles with 13 tackles for loss, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, five pass breakups and 5.0 sacks; named the 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year; Defensive MVP of Mountain West Championship Game; was a First-Team All-Mountain West selection; was a Fourth-Team All-American by Phil Steele; played in 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2015, but injuries limited him to six games in 2016

Combine Results

40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds

Bench press: 20 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump: 10 feet, 4 inches (tied for fifth among linebackers)

Vertical jump: 39.5 inches (tied for second among linebackers)

3-cone drill: 6.88 seconds (fifth second among linebackers)

20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds (tied for second among linebackers)

60-yard shuttle: 11.57 seconds (second among four linebackers who participated in this drill)

Profile

Summary: Vander Esch had limited playing time during his first two seasons in Boise due to his role and injuries, but the linebacker exploded onto the scene as a redshirt junior to win the 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and position himself for the NFL Draft. Vander Esch could only get better with more playing time and has the frame and size to be a consistent player in the NFL.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote Vander Esch’s background is an asset for him, featuring a “history of achievement with dominant performances and state titles in two sports in high school.” Zierlein noted that Vander Esch should be able to fly all over the field as he “has agility and quick-twitch for sudden lateral bursts in his slides to close out slashers.”

Stacking up: Vander Esch was listed as the third-best linebacker in this draft class by NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock before the combine. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. did not have him among his top players, but Vander Esch was listed among the top 50 draft prospects by both NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah and Sports Illustrated.

A career high: Vander Esch showed up when it mattered most as he tied a career-high with 16 tackles in Boise State’s win over Fresno State in the 2017 Mountain West Championship Game. He also helped the Broncos defeat the Oregon Ducks 38-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Vander Esch totaled 12 tackles (3.0 for loss), a sack and a forced fumble.