Leighton Vander Esch
Leighton Vander Esch
24-Year-Old LinebackerLB
Dallas Cowboys
2020 Fantasy Outlook
A neck injury all but wrecked Vander Esch's 2019, but he still projects as a top-three linebacker IDP if he can get back to the form he showed as a rookie in 2018. In fact, he's probably the only linebacker with a prayer of keeping up with top IDP Darius Leonard. While playing just 1,312 defensive snaps, Vander Esch piled up 212 tackles. Based on those numbers, we might expect Vander Esch to go over 160 tackles should he play 1,000 snaps. A lot of IDP owners might chase teammate and fellow linebacker Jaylon Smith after he posted 142 tackles last year, but it's Vander Esch who warrants the higher ranking if healthy. Read Past Outlooks
RANKS
#Subscriber-Only
IDP
$Signed a four-year, $11.85 million contract with the Cowboys in May of 2018.
Announces return to full health
LBDallas Cowboys
May 18, 2020
Vander Esch (neck) said Monday he is "doing wonderful" in his recovery from neck surgery and is "ready to roll," Patrik Walker of CBSSports.com reports.
ANALYSIS
"I'm ready to go and healthy as ever," Vander Esch said. After having undergone neck surgery mid-January to address an injury that limited him to nine games in 2019, the 24-year-old now appears ready to resume on-field drills whenever the Cowboys ultimately reconvene for offseason activities. After having stormed out of the gates with 140 tackles as a rookie, Vander Esch will no doubt secure another three-down role in Dallas' linebacker corps if he can stay fully healthy to kick off the 2020 campaign.
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NFL Stats
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2019
2018
2019 NFL Game Log
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2018 NFL Game Log
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Snap Distribution / Depth Chart
Dallas CowboysCowboys 2019 LB Snap Distribution See more data like this
% of Team Snaps

1015
0
651
0
528
0
252
0
83
0
43
0
27
0
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2019 Leighton Vander Esch Split Stats
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Measurables Review
How do Leighton Vander Esch's measurables compare to other linebackers?
This section compares his draft workout metrics with players at the same position. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that metric and it would be considered average.
Height
6' 4"
 
Weight
256 lbs
 
40-Yard Dash
4.65 sec
 
Shuttle Time
4.15 sec
 
Cone Drill
6.88 sec
 
Vertical Jump
39.5 in
 
Broad Jump
124 in
 
Bench Press
20 reps
 
Hand Length
9.75 in
 
Arm Length
44.88 in
 
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2019
2018
Linebacker duos don't come much more established than Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith were last year, yet Vander Esch emphatically introduced himself as the Cowboys' top linebacker as a rookie, with 140 tackles on just 784 snaps. Some of those stops occurred on special teams, where he played 181 snaps (a figure that will drop in 2019), but even if last year's tackle rate is significantly lowered, Vander Esch projects for gigantic totals now that he'll have a three-down role all year. At 6-4, 256, with elite athleticism, Vander Esch might be the Brian Urlacher of this era.
The 19th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Vander Esch joins a Cowboys linebacking corps packed with talent but also fraught with uncertainty. The Boise State product has outstanding speed and athleticism for his size, giving him plenty of upside in a three-down role as he racks up tackles, handles coverage assignments and makes the occasional blitzing foray. Whether he sees a three-down role on a roster that already features oft-injured Sean Lee and third-year LB Jaylon Smith is the big question, but Dallas' initial depth chart lists the rookie as the starting middle linebacker, seemingly putting him ahead of Smith in nickel packages. There were also concerns about a possible neck issue prior to the draft, but the Cowboys presumably didn't consider him a health risk when they used a first-round pick on him. If the workload is there for Vander Esch, elite production could follow.
More Fantasy News
Making strides in recovery
LBDallas Cowboys
Neck
February 27, 2020
Owner Jerry Jones said Vander Esch (neck) is "100 percent [healthy] in my eyes" at the 2020 NFL Combine on Thursday, Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News reports.
ANALYSIS
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To have limitations in camp
LBDallas Cowboys
Neck
February 24, 2020
According to Stephen Jones, Vander Esch (neck) will "likely have limitations up to training camp," Jane Slater of NFL Network reports.
ANALYSIS
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Full recovery anticipated
LBDallas Cowboys
Neck
January 22, 2020
Cowboys executive Stephen Jones said Tuesday that Vander Esch's recent neck surgery "went well," putting the linebacker on track for the start of Dallas' offseason program, Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News reports.
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Undergoes neck surgery
LBDallas Cowboys
Neck
January 14, 2020
Vander Esch had neck surgery Tuesday and expects to be ready for the offseason program, Todd Archer of ESPN reports.
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Heading for neck surgery
LBDallas Cowboys
Neck
December 23, 2019
Coach Jason Garrett confirmed Monday that Vander Esch will undergo a "minimally invasive" neck procedure and will be placed on injured reserve, Nick Shook of NFL Network reports.
ANALYSIS
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