The 2023 NFL Draft is less than three weeks away! I’ve been doing the same intro for over a month now! Let’s get right into it.
EDGE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
The Green Bay Packers could use another edge rusher. Lukas Van Ness is considered one of the top in the class and some have him projected to the Packers at pick 15. The 21-year-old Ness is listed at 6’5, 275 lbs. He’s big enough and skilled enough to play on the defensive line or as an edge rusher. The Packers could use him at either position, or both.
- Powerful rusher
- Closing speed
- Easily converts power to speed and speed to power
- Can play inside and outside
Van Ness is a player Green Bay would love to have. He profiles as a powerful, big, and versatile pass rusher that can play inside and be a valuable run defender as well. He’s explosive off the snap and is fast enough to overwhelm offensive lineman with quick transitions from speed to power. Van Ness quickly collapses pockets. He reminds me of TJ Watt (no, not because he’s white and wears Steelers colors), and especially Green Bay’s own Rashan Gary, especially because Van Ness can play as a 3-4, inside run defender as well as an outside pass rusher. I like Van Ness’ film more than I liked Gary’s when he was drafted.
- Lackluster and contradictory combine performance
- Only played 55% of defensive snaps in 2022
- Inexperience could lead to slower development
There are some weird facts about Van Ness that don’t line up with his tape or ability. You wouldn’t guess from his film that he only performed 17 bench press reps at the combine, second to last in the EDGE class. He’s in the 91st percentile in speed for his position, but that was his only exceptional area. However, his strength is so apparent on film that it baffles me how that could have been his combine result.
Shockingly, Van Ness technically never started a game for Iowa in 2022. He played just over half the defensive snaps on the season. This relative inexperience could cause him to have a slow start to his career, and/or for it to take longer for him to reach his potential.
Van Ness is a player with a high floor and a high ceiling. Even if he were never to reach his “full potential,” I think he has a future as a solid starter or exceptional backup in the NFL. He’s a player I think would fit perfectly with the Packers. He would likely play a rotational role with Preston Smith and Rashan Gary returning, which I think would do wonders for his development. The Packers highly value versatile players at all positions. If he’s there at 15, I wouldn’t be shocked if he were the pick, and I wouldn’t hate it either. Preston Smith could be off somewhere else by next season, allowing for Van Ness to step right into a starting role with some NFL experience under his belt.
Despite a couple concerns, Van Ness isn’t too far off from a blue-chip prospect, at least in the sense that, I think at the very worst, he’ll be an average starting player.
Liam O’Donnell is a devoted Packers fan and an aspiring sportswriter from Milwaukee. He writes for PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @liamodonnell___.
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