Philadelphia Eagles: Grading the first round picks of the NFC East

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Philadelphia Eagles
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player. 123. . Linebacker. Boise State. Leighton Vander Esch. 19

With the 19th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Leighton Vander Esch, linebacker, Boise State.

In a move that also surprised a number of football fans, the Cowboys decided to forgo an opportunity to replace recently departed wide receiver Dez Bryant with their pick of the litter at the wide receiver position, but the team instead decided to select a 6-foot-4, 256-pound linebacker from Boise State.

And Cowboys nation appears to be mixed on the selection at best.

After being hyped up by the in-house announcers before the pick’s selection, the crowd of 270,000-plus at AT&T Stadium didn’t reaction incredibly enthusiastically to the selection, with some going so far ask to actually boo the pick.

Which is a shame, because he’s actually a really good football player.

Though far from a sexy pick, Vander Esch is an absolute beast of a man in the middle of a defense and could become an immediate replacement for Anthony Hitchens in 2018, and a worthy replacement for the Cowboys’ often-injured All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee as the team’s starting outside linebacker for the next decade-plus.

But unfortunately for Dallas, the pick wasn’t made in a vacuum.

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After winning the division in 2016, the Cowboys had an atrocious 2017 season, as the cracks in their scheme started to show without Elliot in the offensive backfield. While Vander Esch is a great player, the Cowboys’ needed to add an offensive playmaker in the first round and baring a receiver like Courtland Sutton dropping to them in the second round, this will be a very unpopular pick in Big D.

Grade: C+