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 Duane Brown 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 Tre'Quan Smith Jersey , 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, 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."
Lars Eller scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:37 to play Earl Mitchell Jersey , and the Washington Capitals raised the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history after a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5. Devante Smith-Pelly tied it with a full-stretch goal midway through the final period of the Capitals’ fourth consecutive victory over the Golden Knights, whose incredible expansion season finally ended in the desert.
So did the Capitals’ agonizing wait for their first championship since the franchise’s debut in 1974. After so many years of postseason flops and crushing disappointment, these Capitals won their fourth consecutive closeout game with a tenacious third-period comeback.
Captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored an early power-play goal, and his teammates are Washington’s first championship hockey team – and the city’s first champion in a major pro sport since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in early 1992.
Ovechkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP after scoring his franchise-record 15th goal of the postseason.
PRO FOOTBALL
Terrell Owens will not attend the induction ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, an unprecedented decision by an enshrinee.
Owens was voted into the hall in February. In a statement released by his publicist, Owens says: ”While I am incredibly appreciative of this opportunity, I have made the decision to publicly decline my invitation to attend the induction ceremony in Canton.”
The hall confirmed that the former All-Pro receiver informed them he would not be on hand Aug. 4 for the enshrinements. Owens added, ”After visiting Canton earlier this year, I came to the realization that I wish to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life, elsewhere. At a later date, I will announce where and when I will celebrate my induction.”
Owens heavily criticized the voting process when he failed to be elected to the hall in his first two years of eligibility.
PRO BASKETBALL
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Bryan Colangelo resigned as president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers in the wake of what an investigation found was ”careless and in some instances reckless” sharing of sensitive team information.
The independent review by a law firm did not determine that Colangelo operated or was even aware of Twitter accounts that anonymously trashed some of his own players and fellow executives Duron Harmon Jersey , and defended him against criticism from fans and the sports media.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP said evidence supported the conclusion that Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini, operated the four accounts it investigated, and she admitted to doing so – though also said she deleted contents of her iPhone with a factory reset of the device prior to surrendering it for forensic review, limiting the investigation.
As for Colangelo, there was no evidence he knew of the accounts before a May 22 inquiry from the sports website The Ringer for a story it reported linking him to five Twitter accounts that took aim at Philadelphia players Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz, former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri and former Sixers players Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has agreed to a two-year extension running through the 2020-21 season.
The Pelicans already had informed Gentry going into the playoffs that the club would exercise his option through next season. Now he’s under contract two additional seasons under the extension announced by the club on Thursday afternoon.
Gentry has gone 117-138 in three seasons, including this season’s playoffs Larry Warford Jersey , when the Pelicans swept Portland before losing a second-round season 4-1 to defending champion Golden State.
New Orleans missed the playoffs in Gentry’s first two seasons, during which the team dealt with a spate of injuries to key players.
GOLF
Tiger Woods will play the opening two rounds of the U.S. Open with Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, which feels like a grouping of Nos. 1-2-3 in the world ranking. Except that Woods is No. 80.
The USGA released its tee times for the U.S. Open next week at Shinnecock Hills, and it offered two stacked groups for the morning and afternoon.
Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy tee off together in the morning of the first round. Woods, Johnson and Thomas are together in the afternoon.
This is the 10-year anniversary of the USGA first putting together the Nos. 1-2-3 players in the world at Torrey Pines – Woods, Mickelson and Adam Scott.
HORSE RACING
NEW YORK (AP) – Triple Crown contender Justify glided over the track in his first trip over the Belmont Park strip.
The strapping chestnut colt is the odds-on favorite to complete the series sweep on Saturday in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes following victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
Justify arrived here Wednesday afternoon after a flight from Kentucky. Bob Baffert, his Hall of Fame trainer, was delighted with how well the horse handled the shipping and the unfamiliar surroundings on an overcast morning. Justify went 1 3/8 miles, keen and eager as he flashed by the grandstand.
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