One NFL Team Has Medically Flunked Vander Esch; Others Have Second-Day Grades
Updated April 18, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
One of the late-rising prospects during the leadup to the 2018 NFL Draft has been Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. He put together some excellent workouts for teams, showing speed and athleticism in his 6-foot-4, 256-pound frame. Injuries limited Vander Esch to six games in 2016, but he exploded as a junior with 141 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, four passes broken up and three interceptions. That injury history, however, has still comeback to bite Vander Esch, as WalterFootball.com has learned that one team has removed him from their draft board after flunking him medically.
Sources from four teams said they felt Vander Esch belongs on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft and would go there. Two other team sources thought Vander Esch could go late in the first round. One team that flunked him medically said they had a third-round grade on Vander Esch before the medical report ruled him out.
"To me, he's a third-round talent, but probably will go higher," said an AFC general manager. "He has gotten a lot of hype, but he plays soft. He's too much like Paul Posluszny for me. He's a good player and will have a lot of tackles, but most of them will come four yards downfield. He's not an impact-at-the-line guy like a Ray Lewis, Luke Kuechly, Jon Beason or Brian Urlacher."
Helping Vander Esch to go in the first round are teams not having 32 first-round grades. It varies by team, but in the final dozen picks of the first round, there will be players with second-round grades getting selected because there are not enough true first-rounders. Vander Esch could be one of those players, but medical concerns also might cause him to slide to Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.