As if there were not already enough signs that Leighton Vander Esch is going to be a first-round pick, the NFL announced Thursday that he will be one of 22 future pros who will be attending the draft in Dallas later this month.
Four other linebackers are slated to attend along with the former Boise State standout: Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, Georgia’s Roquan Smith, Central Florida’s Shaquem Griffin and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans. The first round of the draft will be held April 26, starting at 6 p.m. It will be televised on FOX and the NFL Network.
Two other former Broncos have attended the draft, and they are the two highest picks in school history. Ryan Clady went 12th overall to the Denver Broncos in 2008 and Shea McClellin went 19th overall in 2012 to the Chicago Bears.
After a massive junior season, Vander Esch has been projected as a late first-rounder by most, but there is some buzz he could go earlier. CBS Sports’ latest mock draft has him going No. 8 to the Bears. In their latest mocks, ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have him going 21st and 32nd, respectively, to the Bengals and the Eagles.
“I feel very confident in that,” Vander Esch said Tuesday when asked whether he will go in the first round. “I’m just trying to be the best linebacker in the nation, that’s my biggest goal, and I want to be the best linebacker in the NFL one day, too.”