Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, whose name sounds like the combination of three Flyers goalies, is one of the 30 prospects from the 2018 NFL Draft who will be hosted by the Eagles for a visit in Philadelphia. NJ.com reports LVE’s visit actually took place already.
Earlier this offseason, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com said the Eagles “would love to add Vander Esch with the last pick of the first round.” He also said they don’t believe LVE will be available at No. 32 overall.
But just in case he does fall, the Eagles are doing their homework on him. In addition to hosting LVE on a pre-draft visit, they used one of their 60 formal interviews at the NFL Combine to meet with him.
LVE boasts a great combination of size and athleticism. He measures in at 6-4, 256 pounds and tested very well at the Combine.
As a first-year starter, LVE had an eye-popping 141 total tackles in 2017. He also logged 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, five passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions last season.
The Eagles don’t have an immediate need at linebacker after re-signing Nigel Bradham and acquiring Corey Nelson in free agency. Bradham figures to reprise his role at strongside linebacker with Jordan Hicks set to return in the middle of the defense. With the oft-injured Hicks set to enter the final year of his rookie contract, however, linebacker is a long-term need for Philly.
There’s thought that LVE could benefit from having a limited role as a rookie before stepping into a bigger role in Year 2. Perhaps the Eagles view him as a potential Hicks replacement.
Here’s a scouting report on LVE via NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein.
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.
Complete list of known Philadelphia Eagles draft visits
Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch
Stanford S Justin Reid - [Click here]
LSU RB Derrius Guice - [Click here]
LSU CB Donte Jackson - [Click here]