New England Patriots: Leighton Vander Esch is exactly what team needs

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 16: Tony Brooks-James
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 16: Tony Brooks-James /

The MMQB released their latest mock draft. According to Albert Breer the New England Patriots will be focused on improving their defense.

Get excited football fans! There are only two months until the NFL Draft will be underway. After the New England Patriots disappointing loss in the Super Bowl, fans are hoping they can make some improvements to hopefully add another championship banner at Gillette Stadium.

Albert Breer and the MMQB released their latest mock draft and have the Patriots taking LB Leighton Vander Esch out of Boise State. Breer’s reasoning behind the pick is that Vander Esch will improve the Patriots front seven and be insurance for Dont’a Hightower and even his possible replacement.

A Nice Fit

Vander Esch was the 2017 Mountain West defensive player of the year last season. He totaled 141 tackles (8.5 for loss) 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, 4 pass breakups and 4 forced fumbles.

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Vander Esch played a major role in leading the Broncos to an MWC championship. He was MVP of the game and recorded 16 tackles and had the game-clinching interception. Just looking at his size he is similar to a J.J. Watt (even though they play different positions) with Vander Esch being only an inch smaller and 10 pounds lighter. The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off on Tuesday so we can see if Vander Esch continues to look similar to Watt.

Like Watt, Vander Esch’s strength is his length and athleticism. He can be a threat breaking up passes as well as breaking up plays in the backfield. Also his athleticism helps him pursue running backs and help him recover after making mistakes at the line. Vander Esch has gone as high as 28 in other mock drafts so it appears that his draft stock is rising.

The New England Patriots definitely need some help after what we saw in the Super Bowl. They need a player who can get to the quarterback, but also be able to cover backs coming out of the backfield. Hightower will be returning next season (Thank God), so the front seven will be improved, but with all the injuries last season we saw the linebacking corps exposed.

Also David Harris just retired so the Patriots can use the depth at the position.

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A duo of Vander Esch and Hightower could become an offensive coordinator’s worst nightmare, and that’s just what Patriots fans want to hear about their defense.