Dallas Cowboys: Brian Urlacher gushes over Leighton Vander Esch
Coming out of the draft, Dallas Cowboys‘ linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was compared to Brian Urlacher. Now the Hall of Famer is gushing over the rookie.
At this time last year, the Dallas Cowboys were scouting college prospects, hoping to find a perfect player to fit their needs. The Cowboys possessed the 19th overall selection in the first round and had several options to choose from.
After releasing former number one wide receiver Dez Bryant prior to the draft, that position became a paramount need in Dallas in the eyes of many. But during their scouting process, the Cowboys fell in love with a 6-foot-4, 255-pound linebacker out of Boise State who was being compared to former Chicago Bears’ legend Brian Urlacher and had roots in eight-man football.
That player was Leighton Vander Esch. And despite both of the top wide receiver prospects still being available, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Maryland’s D.J. Moore, the Cowboys made Vander Esch their first-round selection.
And by all accounts, Dallas made the right choice. Vander Esch earned a Pro Bowl nod in his very first season, was voted onto the All-Pro Second Team and is already considered one of the top linebackers in the NFL. Combined with the elevated play of Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys field one of the youngest and most talented linebacker corps in the NFL.
At the Pro Bowl this past weekend, Vander Esch and Urlacher had a chance to meet as the latter was named one of the All-Star game’s Legend Captains. Here’s what the Hall of Fame linebacker told DallasCowboys.com about the team’s impressive rookie defender.
"“[Vander Esch is] amazing. He’s got so much ability. Watching him in practice. They haven’t done much this week, but you can see the way he moves. He’s already good but he’s going to get even better and be really good. He’s going to get better and better.”"
Urlacher admitted the comparisons between him and Vander Esch are unfair to the young linebacker. And that he himself experienced the same thing as a rookie in Chicago with comparisons to fellow Bears’ Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.
Leighton Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles, seven pass defends and two interceptions for the Dallas Cowboys during his rookie season. Brian Urlacher recorded eerily similar numbers in his first season, posting 125 tackles, 8.0 sacks, five pass defends and two picks for the Chicago Bears in 2000.