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Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys Reportedly Agree to 4-Year Rookie Contract

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2018

Dallas Cowboys first round draft pick Leighton Vander Esch smiles during an NFL football press conference Friday, April 27, 2018, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press

Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and the Dallas Cowboys came to terms on a four-year, $11.847 million rookie contract Friday.

Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram reported the contract details, adding that the rookie will receive a $6.696 million signing bonus.

The Cowboys selected Vander Esch with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft out of Boise State.

Vander Esch entered the first-round conversation after a dominant junior season with the Broncos that saw him register 141 tackles, 4.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions.

The 21-year-old native of Riggins, Idaho, was named the 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, and he solidified himself as one of the top linebackers in his draft class with a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Dallas took Vander Esch with an eye toward potentially making him an instant starter alongside Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

The Cowboys have talent at all levels of their defense, and they performed well on that side of the ball in 2017.

Dallas ranked eighth in the NFL in total yardage allowed and tied for 13th in points allowed.

Offense was the Cowboys' biggest issue last season, as running back Ezekiel Elliott missed six games due to a suspension, and quarterback Dak Prescott was unable to replicate his spectacular rookie season.

With Elliott poised to be in the fold for all 16 games in 2018, however, Dallas' improving defense can potentially be a key part of helping the team get back to the playoffs.

Vander Esch is a do-everything linebacker who should help the Cowboys' defense in all areas moving forward.

His athleticism allows him to get the job done in pass coverage, but he is also a capable pass-rusher, and his instincts help him go sideline to sideline while snuffing out opposing running games.

If Vander Esch is as good as advertised, then the Dallas defense should take another significant step forward in 2018.

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