It’s hard enough right now to project whether or not the NFL will even return in 2020. But if there is a season, one national football writer projects that Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will be the Dallas Cowboys’ MVP.
Dan Hanzus of NFL.com and “Around the NFL” recently predicted the Most Valuable Players for every team. His pick of Vander Esch for the Cowboys stands out as one of the more surprising.
This is a bold guess to say the least. Vander Esch has yet to establish himself as even being Dallas’ best defensive player, let alone the most important member of the entire Cowboys roster.
I’m not saying that Leighton isn’t a significant factor in the Cowboys’ potential success in 2020. The team desperately needs him to at least get back his rookie form, if not better, if they want to be contenders. It was the combined effort of Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith that helped them make the playoffs in 2018.
But as is the case for almost every NFL team, the Cowboys will live and die on the performance of their quarterback. Dak Prescott will decide Dallas’ fate far more than any one defensive player.
I would also argue that Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith would be far greater losses to overcome than if Vander Esch were to again miss time or be hampered by his neck injury.
To be honest, Leighton isn’t even the key cog on defense. DeMarcus Lawrence is still the top man there and all of Dallas’ work on the defensive line this offseason would be naught without Tank’s presence.
Sure, Leighton Vander Esch could emerge as the Brian Urlacher 2.0 that we’re all hoping for in 2020. If something like that happens then yeah, maybe, you consider him as the team’s MVP.
Realistically, just seeing Leighton healthy again and continuing to grow his game is a big win for the Cowboys this season. He can be one of their most important players, but thinking he’ll emerge as MVP is a nice, long reach.