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Meet the Prospect: Leighton Vander Esch

Name: Leighton Vander Esch

Position: LB

School: Boise State

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 256

40 dash: 4.65 seconds

Bench: 20 reps

Vertical: 39.5 inches

Broad: 124.0 inches

3-cone: 6.88 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds

How he fits: The Lions have made a concerted effort this offseason to add size to their linebacking corps, and Vander Esch certainly fits the bill if they're still in the market to upgrade both the talent and depth at the position via the draft.

View photos of NFL prospect Leighton Vander Esch.

New Lions head coach Matt Patricia cut his teeth as a linebackers coach in New England, and knows the value of the position better than anyone.

Vander Esch is long and athletic, and showed a nose for the football as a first-year starter in 2017. He also has good cover skills, which makes him a legitimate three-down defender. His size and skillset should allow a creative defensive coordinator to find a lot of uses for him.

Key observations: The first-team all-conference pick totaled 141 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups, and four forced fumbles in his junior season.

He played eight-man football in high school growing up in Idaho.

What they had to say about him: "Vander Esch is a loose-hipped, instinctive linebacker who played in 2017 like he had a GPS tracker on the football. His production totals against both the run and pass are rare for being a first-year starter and with a frame that is primed for more muscle, his NFL ceiling is high.

"Vander Esch might benefit from a reduced role his rookie season while he improves his play strength and becomes more skilled at taking on blocks. He's an every-down linebacker with very good starting potential and the talent to fill up a stat sheet." – Lance Zierlein

How he stacks up: NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has Vander Esch listed as the third best linebacker available in the draft behind Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) and Roquan Smith (Georgia).

NFL Draft scout considers Vander Esch to be the third best outside linebacker available after Edmunds and Boston College's Harold Landry.

Daniel Jeremiah lists Vander Esch as the No. 28 overall prospect available in this draft.

What he had to say: "I think my range," Vander Esch said at the Combine of what sets him apart from the other linebackers in this class. "I feel like I cover the field really well. I'm always around the ball. I'm always gonna put myself in position to be around the ball and be close to it.

"We took great pride in that at Boise State, being relentless finishers and making sure we always run to the ball."

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