Cowboys sign Vander Esch to 4-year, $11.8 million deal

Leighton Vander Esch, who starred at linebacker for Boise State, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number nineteen overall pick to the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium.Photo: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

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First-round draft pick Leighton Vander Esch signed a four-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys on Friday that reportedly is worth $11.847 million deal with a $6.696 million signing bonus.

The No. 19 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Vander Esch is projected into Dallas’ starting lineup at linebacker in his rookie season alongside veterans Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

The Cowboys’ only remaining unsigned draft pick is third-rounder Michael Gallup.

The 6-foot-4, 258-pound Vander Esch practiced with the Cowboys on Friday during the first day of the team’s rookie minicamp.

“It feels like it’s been awhile for sure,” Vander Esch told reporters. “It feels awesome to get out on the field and run around with your jersey and strap your cleats on and your gloves and go out there and showcase yourself.”

The Cowboys like how Vander Esch has looked so far.

“He certainly carries himself the right way,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters. “He picks things up quickly. He understands what we are asking him to do and goes out there and does it comfortably. We did get to see him move around a little bit and he looks like the guy we drafted.”

Much is expected of Vander Esch, and he’s ready for it.

“You have to be able to adapt quick no matter what,” he said. “That is the kind of person you have to be. There is always pressure to perform. There is more of it on this level. But not so much that you don’t perform. I have high expectations for myself to go out there and make the most of my dream and this opportunity.”