With his rookie NFL regular season in the books, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch can now be included in the same sentence with Von Miller and Luke Kuechly.
Vander Esch was named to The Associated Press 2018 NFL All-Pro second team on Friday as the Cowboys prepare for their playoff game Saturday against Seattle (6:15 p.m. MT, Fox).
The Salmon River High graduate and Boise State alum was joined on the All-Pro second team at linebacker by Denver’s Miller and Baltimore’s C.J. Mosley. Carolina’s Kuechly, Seattle’s Bobby Wagner and Indianapolis’ Darius Leonard received the first-team nods at the position based on a vote of a national panel of 50 media members.
Vander Esch leads the Cowboys and ranks third in the NFL with 140 tackles this season. He also has two interceptions and six pass breakups.
Before he was taken by the Cowboys with the 19th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Vander Esch racked up 141 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions his junior season at Boise State to earn Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors.
He began his rookie season as a backup to the Cowboys’ oft-injured Sean Lee, himself a former All-Pro linebacker. When Lee was injured again, Vander Esch got his chance to shine.