Be honest: how many of you are draft-crushing on this Leighton Vander Esch kid because he rocks the neck roll, a lá Tedy Bruschi and James Develin?
(....not that there’s anything wrong with that)
Sunday morning dad jokes aside, there’s not much better news that Patriots Nation could get with the draft just a few days away, FINALLY. This last Wednesday was the last day that NFL teams could host draft prospects for team visits, and per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots used three of their thirty official visits on Boise State’s BAMF ILB Leighton Vander Esch, Alabama wideout and probable Dez Bryant replacement Calvin Ridley, and Oregon offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby.
If you’re wondering how you missed the news this morning, don’t feel bad; it’s buried deep in Reiss’s “As a captain, did Gronk cross the line in playful news conference?” article, which, if you’re like most of us, you looked at the title, did your loudest Homer Simpson “BOOOOOOOOOORING!” and went on living your life.
Here’s the goods:
2. On Wednesday, which was the final day that NFL teams could host prospects at their facility before the NFL draft, I’m told the Patriots had some notable early-round projections in town: linebacker Leighton Vander Esch(Boise State), offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby (Oregon) and wide receiver Calvin Ridley (Alabama). Teams are limited to 30 visits, and those are sometimes used to update medical questions, could be a smokescreen to other clubs, and other times are a reflection of genuine interest in drafting the player. Of the aforementioned trio, Vander Esch and Ridley have been well covered from a media hype standpoint, while the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Crosby hasn’t received the same level of buzz but could go as early as the second round. He has an impressive combination of size and power in what is considered an overall weak offensive tackle class.
The general consensus among the Pats Pulpit team is pretty straightforward: LVE is all that and a bag of chips. The Boise State junior and Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year is Evan Lazar’s top non-quarterback target on his top-50 draft board. Vander Esch also checks in on Michael McDermott’s list at one of the Patriots red-alert positional needs, and McDermott sees him as a guy that New England’s coaching staff could start grooming early and then turn him loose as the #1/#2 linebacker later in the season. And Tian Rossi got starry-eyed for Vander Esch after the Combine, putting him on his short list of defensive prospects and describing him as, well, only EXACTLY WHAT THE PATRIOTS NEED:
He’s a monster attacking gaps and he can go sideline to sideline.
It’s OK to get excited. After all, there’s only four more sleeps till the draft.