BOISE – Back in December, former Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch announced his decision to forego his senior year of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft. This week the Riggins-native received further approval that it was the right decision.
Each year in Indianapolis, approximately 300 of the best draft-eligible players gather to display their skills in front of scouts, coaches and front office executives at the NFL Combine. Vander Esch confirmed to KTVB that he will be one of those players, as he officially received his invite on Tuesday.
Vander Esch led Boise State with 141 tackles and four forced fumbles as a junior this past season. He also tied for the team-lead with three interceptions and 8.5 tackles-for-loss.
Following the regular season, Vander Esch was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. He also earned defensive MVP honors in both the Mountain West Conference Championship Game and the Las Vegas Bowl.
Although he only started one full season during his collegiate career, Vander Esch made the most of it, putting together one of the more impressive all-around individual performances we have ever witnessed by a linebacker. In fact, Vander Esch is one of just four FBS players to post 140+ tackles, 4+ forced fumbles and 3+ interceptions in a single-season since 2011. The last player to post such a stat line and declare early for the draft: Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, that was just named to his sixth career Pro Bowl.
Vander Esch and the rest of the linebackers will hit the turf in Indianapolis for their on-field workouts on Sunday, March 4. Fellow-former Bronco linebacker Tanner Vallejo attended the NFL Combine just last year. He ended up getting drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round.