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Debunking the Vander Esch draft myth

The certainty of first-round NFL Draft status for Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch has been called into question, depending upon who you believe.
Credit: Brian Spurlock
Mar 4, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boise State Broncos linebacker Leighton Vander Esch participates in work out drills during the 2018 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

The certainty of first-round NFL Draft status for Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch has been called into question, depending upon who you believe. Charlie Campbell of Walter Football claims some NFL teams have “medically flunked” Vander Esch and have removed him from their draft boards. Listen to this from Pittsburgh fan site SteelersDepot.com, though: “Let it be known that Campbell has a somewhat sketchy history when it comes to news-breaking and that’s why we don’t often link to any of his work.” Tweeted renowned draft expert Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com on Campbell’s claim, “This is completely false.” And ProFootballWeekly.com responded that the NFL Combine’s official medical report gave Vander Esch a grade of 4 out a possible 5 (the best).

Let’s let ProFootballWeekly settle it: “We don't expect this incomplete and seemingly inaccurate report to have any bearing on Vander Esch's draft status. Oftentimes poor or faulty injury information will leak to sources this time of year with the hopes that some teams gets scared off for medical concerns. Vander Esch has met with virtually every team picking in the middle of the first round—keep an eye on the Los Angeles Chargers, who pick 17th overall—and has seen his stock skyrocket in the past six months.” So, uh, go back to what you were doing.

Bucky Brooks of NFL Network was a guest last Friday on the DA Show on KTIK, and he is not a believer in Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Brooks questions what so many others do: his lukewarm body of work despite his raw talent. “It’s hard for me to say that Josh Allen is the best player in the NFL Draft when I don’t have enough evidence to tell me that,” said Brooks. “For me, as an evaluator, that troubles me.” Brooks covered the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on the blue turf in December. He was thoroughly impressed with Allen’s first quarter, when he was 6-of-7 for 104 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over Central Michigan. And Brooks was entirely underwhelmed by the rest of the game, as Allen was just 5-of-12 for 52 yards. Keeping in mind that Allen was coming off a six-week layoff.

Boise State has its first commitment of the 2019 recruiting class, as Alec Pell of Cherry Creek High in Englewood, CO, delivered his verbal to the Bronco staff yesterday. Pell is listed as a 6-4, 225-pound tight end, although he told 247Sports.com that he’s expecting to start his college career at outside linebacker. He was part of Boise State’s Junior Day over the weekend and attended the Spring Game. Pell tweeted Saturday that the offer from the Broncos was his 10th—and called it “an amazing visit.” Pell’s Cherry Creek teammate, 6-7, 300-pound offensive lineman Michael Lynn, also has an offer from Boise State. We’ll see how Pell does now with the power of persuasion.

At Albertsons Stadium Saturday, during the gathering of new Boise State Athletics Hall of Fame inductees, Nate Potter leaned down to his former quarterback and said, “Kellen, remember how bad some of our Spring Games were?” There have been some April clunkers over the years, quarterbacks included (and Brett Rypien included), before magic was made in the fall. That’s what makes Rypien’s show on Saturday so impressive. His best throw of the day, in my opinion, was one to running back Skyler Siebold that gained 40 yards. Siebold had wheeled out of the backfield, and Rypien put the perfect amount of air under the ball to drop it over the defender and into Siebold’s breadbasket. A nice table-setter for Rypien as he looks ahead to player-run practices this summer.

Truth be told, Boise State’s second-team secondary didn’t have the best of days in the Spring Game, as Bronco quarterbacks had a 74 percent completion rate, throwing for 412 yards and five touchdowns—much of it against the 2’s. But there were some real positives in that group Saturday. Safety Tyreque Jones produced a textbook pass deflection, and corner Jermani Brown turned in perhaps the best hit among defensive backs in the game. Brown and Jalen Walker look to be the favorites to nail down the backup cornerback spots this summer, but at safety, it’s anybody’s guess. The Bronco defensive staff could use the nickel more liberally to get this talent on the field. The backups include Kekaula Kaniho (a starting nickel, in effect), Jordan Happle, Evan Tyler and Jones.

Mason Petrino and Colton Richardson took most of the snaps at quarterback at Idaho’s first scrimmage of spring football last Friday. The battle to replace four-year starter Matt Linehan looks like it will come down to that duo, although Richardson’s status for the rest of spring football is unknown after he sustained a high-ankle injury late in the scrimmage. Meanwhile, Idaho is set to get regional TV exposure it hasn’t had since its days in the WAC when it returns to the Big Sky this fall. Three Vandal games will be featured on the ROOT Sports Game of the Week: at Montana State on October 13, at Eastern Washington on October 27, and the home finale in the Kibbie Dome versus Montana on November 10.

Idaho SportsTalk got a scouting report yesterday on Boise State’s new basketball signee, Roderick Williams of East LA College. The more you heard his JC coach, John Mosely, the more it sounded like the Broncos have at least partially addressed the loss of Chandler Hutchison. Mosely called Williams a “point forward” who has “really leaned how to become a facilitator from that position.” Williams not only led East LA in scoring with 19.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, he also paraded to the free throw line. He averaged eight free throws per game and shot 76 percent.

This Day In Sports…April 17, 2015:

Former Boise Hawk Kris Bryant makes his long-awaited major league debut and goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in a 5-4 loss to San Diego at Wrigley Field. It was reminiscent of Bryant’s first game with the Hawks in 2013, when he went 0-for-5, striking out all five times after being the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB Draft. In each case, the debut performance was an aberration. Bryant would go on to be named National League Rookie of the Year in 2015, and a year later would be named NL Most Valuable Player as he led the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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