Dallas Cowboys: Is Leighton Vander Esch the next Sean Lee?

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has suffered another injury setback

Is Leighton Vander Esch the next Sean Lee? For fans of the Dallas Cowboys, this is a question to can invoke both excitement and dread do to the nature of Lee’s career with America’s Team.

A first-round talent, Lee fell to the Cowboys in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft as a result of the injuries he suffered while at Penn State. That included missing an entire season due to a torn ACL.

During Lee’s time with the Cowboys, injuries have continued to plague what might have been a Hall of Fame career. That includes missing the entire 2014 NFL season due to a torn ACL.

Over his 11-year career so far, the two-time Pro Bowler has missed 52 total games including Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. In fact, he’ll miss the next two games as well as he’s currently on Injured Reserve.

Lee’s tenure in Dallas could be viewed as a cautionary tale, one that places the importance of availability above all else. And it’s a story fans are hoping isn’t being retold when it comes to the team’s newest Pro Bowl linebacker, Leighton Vander Esch.

Drafted 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, Vander Esch posted a stellar first season for the Cowboys. Recording 140 combined tackles, seven pass defends, and two interceptions as a rookie, the young Wolf Hunter’s performance got him his first of hopefully many Pro Bowl bids.

Unfortunately, Vander Esch had his sophomore season in Dallas cut short due to a neck injury. This was especially worrisome since there were early concerns surrounding a potential cervical issue prior to the draft.

After undergoing neck surgery in January, Vander Esch declared himself as healthy as ever. Yet, during his regular-season debut against the Rams on Sunday, the 24-year old suffered a collarbone injury that is projected to have him sidelined for the next six-to-eight weeks.

It’s an auspicious start to Vander Esch’s career. And one that’s beginning to look all too familiar to Cowboys’ fans. But according to Dallas owner and general manager Jerry Jones, he believes the third-year linebacker’s early injury struggles are more about bad luck than being injury prone.

Is Leighton Vander Esch the next Sean Lee? There are certainly connections to be made when it comes to a Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker being drafted despite injury concerns stemming from college who’s struggling to stay on the field as a professional. And until Vander Esch is able to prove he can remain healthy for an extended amount of time, that’s a question that will remain unanswered.