Cowboys first round linebacker
“With the 19th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Leighton Vander Esch, linebacker from Boise State.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington as the Cowboys hosted the 2018 NFL Draft. It looked electrifying in the beginning but once the first-round picks rolled out, there were mixed emotions. No one in the Metroplex knew who Vander Esch was. He’s 6’4”, 256 pounds from Riggins, Idaho, with a population of barely 400. There were only 11 in his high school graduating class. Vander Esch played Eight Man football in high school. He went to Boise State and finished with 188 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions.
ander Esch said, “I’ve been wanting to play here since day one. Dallas, I love you guys. This place is awesome. We’ve got Super Bowls to win, baby!” I think every player says that when he gets drafted by the Cowboys. He loves Dallas but will the Cowboy Nation love him? Dallas media sports polls said about 75 percent agreed, close to 20 percent didn’t. The Cowboys were in need of a wide receiver after cutting Dez Bryant and passed on some key receivers. Vander Esch will add more power with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, however, Smith just played his first season after sitting out 2016 with an injury and Lee is injury prone. Obviously, Vander Esch could be the focal point on the defensive line.
NFL Draft overall
The Cleveland Browns’ history of drafting quarterbacks in the first round hasn’t been successful. So when the Browns picked quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 1, fans weren’t pleased. CBS Sports rated that pick a C, which makes Mayfield a fair quarterback. Not a good choice right off the bat. He will not make a difference unless his offensive line gets better. A total of five quarterbacks were picked in the first round. At No. 3, Sam Darnold went to the Jets. At No. 7, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen is now a Buffalo Bill. That looks to be a perfect pick for a guy who’s used to the arctic conditions in the North. Josh Rosen was drafted 10th by the Arizona Cardinals and Lamar Jackson was drafted 32nd by the Baltimore Ravens.
Jason Witten expected to retire
A day after the Cowboys picked Vander Esch, tight end Jason Witten was reported to be planning to retire from America’s Team. In his 15-year career, Witten finished second all-time among NFL tight ends with 1,152 receptions, 12,448 receiving yards and 68 touchdowns. He is an 11-time Pro Bowler and 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year. There’s no doubt that Witten is a future Hall of Famer. He is first ballot all the way. Certainly, the Cowboys are going young throughout the team. Who’s going to fill Witten’s shoes? Rico Gathers is still trying to learn the system. He had hard times blocking, and this could be a huge problem in Dallas. Without Witten, the Cowboys are losing tons of leadership and experience.
Witten, like most football players, is expected to jump into the broadcasting field. The Cowboy Nation will wish him all the best. He’s certainly one of the Cowboy and NFL greats. I look forward to watching him on whichever network he joins. He will certainly be better than Tony Romo. We salute a North Texas legend.