When he scouted
The Dallas Cowboys decided linebacker was a bigger priority than receiver even after releasing franchise touchdown catch leader Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys took Leighton Vander Esch of Boise State with the 19th pick in the first round of the draft Thursday night. He walked the stage at his new home field in nearby Arlington Aldrick Rosas Jersey , where Dallas was hosting the first draft in an NFL stadium.
"It made me speechless," Vander Esch said. "It's the craziest moment of my life so far."
The Mountain West defensive player of the year will have a chance to start right away alongside 2016 All-Pro Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, who is getting ready for his second season after sitting out as a rookie following a major knee injury in his final game at Notre Dame.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Vander Esch was fifth in the country in tackles and had three interceptions and four sacks for a defense that ranked 22nd nationally.
All the top receivers were still available when the Cowboys selected, including Alabama's Calvin Ridley, who was Bryant's prediction on Twitter if Dallas went with a receiver.
Instead, the Cowboys picked the position that involved another significant loss in the offseason. Dallas let the versatile and durable Anthony Hitchens go to Kansas City in free agency.
"He was the highest-rated player on our board at the time," coach Jason Garrett said of Vander Esch. "We felt like he fit a need for our football team, but more than that, just someone who can make an impact on our football team."
The Cowboys targeted receivers in free agency, adding Allen Hurns from Jacksonville and journeyman Deonte Thompson. They could go after another pass-catcher in the second or third rounds.
Dallas released Bryant earlier this month in a cost-cutting move after three sub-par seasons since the $70 million, five-year contract he signed following an All-Pro season in 2014. Bryant's 73 touchdowns were more than Hall of Fame receivers Bob Hayes and Michael Irvin.
Vander Esch disputed reports from before the draft that a neck injury had led to concerns for some teams, saying he "hadn't had any neck injuries." His agent has said he sustained a stinger and concussion on the same play early in the 2016 season and missed seven games, but said Vander Esch hasn't had any medical issues since then.
"There was nothing," Vander Esch said. "They took like a bad CT scan or something at the combine and some people started talking about it."
The Cowboys didn't hesitate on Vander Esch two years after taking Smith early in the second round knowing he probably wouldn't play as a rookie.
"Our independent doctors as well as our trainers gave him a medical grade that allows us to draft him in the first round," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "I do not stand here concerned about his medical."
A former walk-on from tiny Riggins, Idaho Bobby Hebert Jersey , who played eight-man high school football, Vander Esch had career-high 16 tackles in a triple-overtime loss to Washington State in September.
"It's been an incredible journey thus far," Vander Esch said. "I think (eight-man football) really developed me as a football player. You couldn't come off the field because you had to play both ways. You got in shape real quick. You really learn how to open field tackle."
The Cowboys have a history of taking Boise State defenders. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick played 10 seasons as a fifth-round pick in 2008 before his release this offseason.
Dallas moved up to get defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence early in the second round in 2014, and he finished second in the NFL with 14 1/2 sacks last season. Defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford is going into his seventh year as a third-round choice in 2012.
"You have to be careful about that, ascribing traits to a guy just because of the school that he came from," Garrett said. "But there's something about that program that grows them the right way. It just seems like Leighton is exactly like the rest of them, has a little chip on his shoulder and is a driven guy."
SAN DIEGO (AP) Bobby Beathard loathed first-round draft picks and reveled in taking chances on players from out-of-the-way colleges.
It was a formula that paid off with two victories in four trips to the Super Bowl as general manager of the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers.
He also loathes dressing up, meaning the gold blazer he’ll wear when he’s inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame won’t get much use after Saturday night’s ceremony.
”I don’t think I’ll be wearing it many places except there,” Beathard said. ”I don’t think I’ll be going out to dinner with that coat on.”
That’s Beathard, 81, who always was more comfortable dressed as a Southern California beach bum. In jobs ranging from scout to general manager, he helped build seven Super Bowl teams for four franchises, including four winners, during a career lasting nearly four decades.
Beathard was so low-key that when Kevin Gilbride was hired as Chargers coach in 1997 and insisted that everyone wear a coat and tie on road trips, even the GM, Beathard reached into his pocket on one trip and found an NFL schedule from 1989. That had been the last time he wore a blazer, when he worked on NBC’s pregame show.
Beathard certainly didn’t need a blazer for scouting trips to small colleges Geronimo Allison Jersey , or to bodysurf in his beloved Pacific Ocean, run the Boston Marathon or have a few beers once a week with his buddies in Franklin, Tennessee, where he’s lived for several years.
But he’ll have to wear one Saturday night.
His presenter will be Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, hired by Beathard with Washington before the 1981 season.
”I would have had one of my sons but I think it was more appropriate to have Joe,” Beathard said. ”We spent a long time together.”
Gibbs, inducted in 1996, coached the Redskins to victory in two of the three Super Bowls the Redskins reached in the 1980s. Those are the teams Beathard is best-remembered for building.
He also built the San Diego Chargers’ only Super Bowl team, which was routed by San Francisco in the 1995 game.
He began his career as a part-time scout for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963 before leaving to scout in the AFL. He returned to the Chiefs in 1966, when they played in the first Super Bowl. In 1972, Beathard was hired as director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins, who won consecutive Super Bowls.
The Redskins hired him as GM in 1978 and he began doing things his way. He viewed first-round draft picks a commodity to be traded away to stockpile lower picks. He also worked the free agent market. In 1982, the Redskins team that won the Super Bowl included 27 free agents signed by Beathard since he was hired. In his 11 years in Washington, the Redskins used their first-round pick only three times.
In 1988, Sports Illustrated called him ”The Smartest Man in the NFL.”
Beathard didn’t like the title.
”That was kind of embarrassing,” Beathard said. ”Whoever put that in there, I told them when it first came out Terron Armstead Jersey , `Well, you better go back and ask my high school and college teachers if that’s true, and I don’t think they’d agree with that.’ ”
Taking Beathard’s entire career as a whole, the label certainly fit.
”If I ever got into that position, I had a plan how I wanted to do it and it wasn’t that the No. 1 draft pick was the most important thing,” Beathard said about becoming a GM. ”Every year we’d go out all year to all the colleges, scouting and looking at the players. And if it was a draft that was deep in talent I thought it was more valuable to get some of the later picks, because there were real good players down there, not only in the first round. If you had a high pick in the first round, trade that and get multiple picks where all the other players were. Fortunately it worked out for us. The only grief I got from it was from Darrell Green.”
Of all his draft picks and free agent signings, Beathard said his favorite was Green, the 5-foot-8 defensive back from Texas A&I who was taken with the 28th pick overall – the last pick in the first round – of the 1983 draft. Green went on to a Hall of Fame career.
”That doesn’t mean the other guys, the Art Monks, the Russ Grimms and the Jeff Bostics, all those other guys, it doesn’t mean those weren’t just as important,” Beathard said. ”When we took Darrell Green Chris Hogan Jersey , I’ll never forget the phone call. When I called Darrell he was down at Texas A&I and I called Darrell and said, `Hey Darrell, it’s Bobby; we took you.’ He got mad at me and said, `Why did you wait until last pick to take me?’ And I said, `The way the draft works, we won the Super Bowl so we had the last pick, so blame the other (27) teams that didn’t take you. Don’t blame us.”’
Beathard left the Redskins in May 1989 and was out of the NFL only one season before being hired by the Chargers. His first draft pick was Junior Seau and the Chargers reached the Super Bowl five seasons later. Seau was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
When he scouted colleges, Beathard, who retired in April 2000, said he’d look beyond the players recommended by coaches.
”I traveled the whole country to every school that played football to look for players. I got to see the players personally, besides the scouting staff. I just had a lot of confidence in my evaluation. I wasn’t afraid to take players from small schools, or small players.
”I think of Darrell Green, we had a little receiver, Alvin Garrett, guys that some teams thought we were crazy to take them because they were so small, but t Authentic Womens James Washington Jersey
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