Cowboys sign first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch

The Cowboys have hammered out a contract with their first-round pick.

The team on Friday agreed to terms with rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Dallas later announced the signing.

The No. 19 overall pick in the draft, Vander Esch is expected to slide right into a starting spot alongside veterans Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

Seen as a three-down contributor, Vander Esch starred at Boise State and thrived at the combine as a SPARQ-score darling. He is viewed by the Cowboys as something of a "Brian Urlacher 2.0." according to NFL Network's Jane Slater.

The Cowboys turned heads by ignoring their wide receiver void in the first round, but the linebacker position needed a lift of its own.

Look for Vander Esch to play a major role on defense right away for a Cowboys team angling to get back to the playoffs in 2018.

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