Boise State Football

First-round lock? Boise State’s Vander Esch impresses at NFL combine

Leighton Vander Esch highlights from Boise State's 2017 season

Check out some of Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch's playmaking from the 2017 football season. (Highlights courtesy of Boise State)
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Check out some of Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch's playmaking from the 2017 football season. (Highlights courtesy of Boise State)

Leighton Vander Esch did what many expected Sunday – accomplish feats that most 256-pound athletes can only dream about.

The former Boise State linebacker was seen as a potential star of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and he did not disappoint.

Vander Esch ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, a solid time for one of the bigger linebackers on hand, and put up some impressive marks in the jumps. His 39.5-inch vertical was tied for second-best among the 21 who did the drill, and his 124-inch broad jump was tied for fifth.

In the three-cone drill, Vander Esch was fifth with a 6.88-second time (out of 16 linebackers). He was tied for second (out of 15) in the 20-yard shuttle with a 4.15-second time.

According to Mock Draftable, Vander Esch’s height (6-foot-4) is in the 98th percentile for inside linebackers, his weight is in the 95th, and his wingspan (81 inches) is in the 96th. CBS Sports said he is “another ridiculously long, athletic linebacker.”

NFL.com’s player profile says he is “an every-down linebacker with very good starting potential and the talent to fill up a stat sheet.” The site compares Vander Esch to a young Karlos Dansby, a 14-year pro who has logged 1,419 tackles and scored six defensive touchdowns.

Vander Esch is projected to be a late first-round pick, with plenty of reported interest from Green Bay (picking at No. 14) and Pittsburgh (No. 19). The Riggins native and Salmon River High graduate said meeting with the Steelers was “an absolute blast.” He said whoever takes him is getting the same type of person he was playing 8-man football.

“They’re getting a dude that’s going to come in there and work his hardest,” Vander Esch said. “I’ve always been known for that. I’m always going to put myself in position to make plays by preparing myself in the weight room and on tape.”

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Boise State receiver Cedrick Wilson did his combine drills Saturday. Check out how he did here.

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