Leighton Vander Esch
Career accolades: Pro bowl (2018), 2nd team All-Pro (2018), All-Rookie team (2018).
Leighton Vander Esch certainly didn’t bring the fanfare of a typical Cowboys first round pick. Many fans were looking at shinier toys like Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, and Derwin James.
But much like former low profile first rounders Travis Frederick and Byron Jones before him, LVE turned out to be an excellent choice.
While all of the other potential options had good rookie seasons, the “Wolf Hunter” took center stage as one of the anchors on a defense that vaulted into elite status last year. He registered 140 total tackles, with 102 of those being solo. He also collected 2 interceptions and 7 pass breakups.
Good defense in the NFL isn’t something to be measured with statistics though. To see LVE’s impact on the field, you’d have to watch the games. From the moment he took over as the full time starter for Sean Lee, his instincts and critical playmaking were a huge reason the Cowboys went on their 8 wins in 9 games streak before coming up short to the Rams in the playoffs.
With several years of team control and likely an impending extension should his level of play continue, LVE figures to be a stalwart on the defensive side of the ball in Dallas for a long time.
With both he and fellow young stud Jaylon Smith forming maybe the most dynamic line backing duo in the league, the Cowboys defense should wreak havoc in the NFC for years. Linebackers in the NFL today need two things in a abundance: Range and instincts. These two have an ample amount of both.
But their seems to be something different about Leighton. That’s not a slight to Jaylon or any other great young linebacker, but his playmaking skills standout. He makes tackles other can’t make. He sniffs out screens other don’t. He gets off blocks with ease.
He’s a player Cowboys fans and the DFW are lucky to have.
DSF Top 20 Current DFW Athletes
20. John Klingberg | 19. Skylar Diggins-Smith | 18. Alexander Radulov | 17. Tyron Smith | 16. Miro Heiskanen | 15. Travis Frederick | 14. Zack Martin | 13. Demarcus Lawrence | 12. Leighton Vander Esch
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