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Cowboys NFL Draft 1st Round Reaction

With the 19th pick of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch.

The Taco Charlton hangover hit almost immediately.

I don’t know which party had the highest level of angst, general pundits, Cowboys analyst or Cowboys Nation?

But after you boil it all down, where are the Cowboys right now?

Expectation Management

The general pundits were all ablaze about how Dallas was in dire need of a WR1 and by not taking (enter fav WR name here) they blew it. General pundits are like sheep and should be ignored.

Actual Cowboys analyst were fully aware the team is not looking at the WR situation as they have in years past having adjusted how they are building the unit. However, leaving a sliding, top-rated OG, and Edge rusher on the board sent some into passionate online rants about that and the “missed” opportunity to trade up a few slots and snag a sliding Vea or Derwin. I see where they are coming from. Valid points.

Cowboys Nation was all of the above. A lot wanted a splash at WR, some wanted Vea, some Derwin, others even a trade into the top 5. Bottom line the nation wanted a splash and didn’t’ get it, however, the fans I do get. Dez left and who came on? Exactly.

“I freaking love this pick!” – Steven Van Over

Player Concerns

The initial angst was directed at who was NOT taken. However, some voiced valid concerns about who WAS taken.

Injury history – there is a medical on Leighton’s neck. It’s documented. It could be an issue. Supposedly the team is fully comfortable with it. Considering the team’s laissez-faire attitude towards drafting injury prone LB’s this is a valid concern.

Collegiate experience – 1 year as a starter at Boise State. It was a HELL of a year. But it is only one. Singular. Uno. Another valid concern.

Jaylon Smith – many of the above believe taking Leighton is analogous to admitting the Jaylon Smith pick was a bust. A valid concern.

The Good News

Raf and I have had several conversations over this past season in regards to the impact an “Urlacher type” player would have on this team in the middle of the defense. Think back to the very positive impact MLB Rolando McClain had on the team when he was not doing the purple dank. The team is also aware and has been in pursuit of said player for years.

I believe they have finally hit a home run at the position.

Does the kid have a lot of growing to do? Yes. But he is young and a perfect fit for what the team is looking for and desperately needs.


The depth of the draft at LB is much thinner than other positions insofar as the Cowboys were concerned with regard to MLB. The Cowboys realize in order to make it to the show they are going to have to get a LOT better. They need talent at multiple positions. They believe more options are going to be available at offensive line later than would have been at MLB. I agree, however now, it has to work.

Harold Landry – the club is still being eviscerated this AM for not taking Landry, the guy with the best first step in the NFL Draft. Sure. Them and 31 other NFL club talent evaluators could be wrong. It happens. What also happens a lot of the time is they all get it right. Landry is undoubtedly a talent, however, his production went off the rails for a reason and it has teams concerned. Nothing to see here, time to move on.


Lee is 32  years old and injury prone. Jaylon Smith is progressing quite nicely this offseason and is being looked at to take a big step forward and become the heir apparent to Lee on the weak side while he slides into the strong side in some packages now. Leighton is going to get snaps in the middle and like all Cowboys LB’s will be required to learn all of the positions. How many snaps he gets is the key.


Taco Charlton or Travis Frederick. That’s what it boils down to. And the Taco may still pan out. Regardless if Leighton ends up being more like Frederick then all will be forgiven. If the kid spends most of the first year watching from the sidelines ala pulling a Taco (I did keep a straight face) then all hell will break loose and frankly, it would be warranted.

I called it on the day of the pick with Travis Frederick and that worked out pretty well. I was not as excited about the Taco Charlton pick but I still see upside at this point. Laying it out there I am calling this one now. I love this pick. I don’t “cautiously have hope,” no. I freaking love this pick! I wanted this pick. I had hopes but was ready to be disappointed. However, this is an NFL Draft, not a singular pick and that is what will make or break this selection in my opinion. The Cowboys HAVE to follow this up with a solid day two addition. With the Cowboys recent history in the second round …. well ….. lets just again acknowledge another valid concern.

Welcome to the Dallas Cowboys Leighton Vander Esch. I have high hopes for ya.

What say you Sports Nation?

Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over

Steven Van Over

Steven Van Over

Analyst, Editor, Photographer, Writer at SportsTalkLine
Editor, Writer, Podcaster & Photographer for @SportsTalkLine Network. I watch sports, I talk about sports then I write about sports. Catch me on Twitter @StevenVanOver
Steven Van Over