We have hit July and training camp for the Dallas Cowboys is just a few short weeks away. Right now there is little excitement going on as we’re all just waiting for camp to arrive. Before it comes, however, something needs to be addressed; the lack of hype behind first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch.
After all, this is the Dallas Cowboys and there is usually a palpable buzz around their prized rookie pick. The chatter over the first round pick isn’t always good either, Taco Charlton’s selection was scrutinized, as was Travis Frederick’s when the team picked them. Fredbeard proved the Cowboys right and while Taco still has work to do, he played well enough in his rookie season to encourage the doubters.
There was massive anticipation over Ezekiel Elliott a few years ago as well, with good reason. Everyone knew Zeke was going to be a star and the buzz over watching him play behind Dallas’ offensive line was sky high.
Some of us may also remember the way some fans agonized over the Zack Martin/Johnny Manziel drama for months. Talk about Martin seemed to ramp up when he injured Sean Lee in OTAs, which was about as fluky as it can get. Martin has since silenced any doubt over the debate.
Now here we are with training camp approaching and there doesn’t appear to be much talk about Vander Esch. Hype is meaningless, Vander Esch’s play on the field means much more, and the issue might be we haven’t gotten to see him there enough. The Cowboys have been very cautious with the prized rookie’s ankle injury since he hurt it in OTAs. It’s hard to assess how good Vander Esch is without seeing him on the field and that’s one possible reason we haven’t gotten the hype surrounding the first round pick.
However, we should be hearing more about this young stud linebacker. Vander Esch’s draft profile has been well chronicled; he’s an outstanding athlete who excels in coverage. The former Boise State star needs to add strength, but his instincts help him in the running game. Put Vander Esch next to Lee and let him learn the game at the NFL level.
Perhaps more importantly, Vander Esch completes the starting linebacker unit. Without the rookie, the Cowboys would be searching for a starting level linebacker. With him, the team has one of the strongest linebacker groups in the league, especially if Vander Esch plays up to his potential. The ceiling for Dallas at the position is through the roof; Lee is one of the best in the game and Jaylon Smith’s development will be a thing of beauty to watch this season. If all three bring their A-games, this defense can reach a new level in 2018. This is only possible because of Vander Esch’s presence, without him the Cowboys are still searching for help.
Leighton Vander Esch feels like a forgotten man for the Cowboys. As a first-round pick playing in Dallas, that’s difficult to do. Hopefully, we’ll be talking about Vander Esch much more when he gets on the field in training camp.
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