This had to be one of the highest anticipated draft picks in recent memory for the Green Bay Packers. With the Aaron Rodgers trade the Packers swapped picks with the New York Jets to receive the 13th overall pick. With that pick, the Packers selected EDGE rusher, Lukas Van Ness from Iowa.
His teammates at Iowa nicknamed him “Hercules.” Enough said. At 6’5″ 272 pounds, Lukas Van Ness is a dominating human being. He may not have started for the Hawkeyes in 2022, but he still was voted second-team All-Big Ten for 2022. He led the Hawkeyes with 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 13 games. 38 tackles total and had two blocked kicks as well.
Van Ness could put his hand in the dirt as a Defensive End but may need to put a little more mass on to be a 3-4 DE.
He has an excellent first step to burst out of his stance into the neutral zone. A very agile pass-rusher, Van Ness has the speed to chase down mobile Quarterbacks.
In the run game, Van Ness has excellent timing to disengage with blocks to capture the runner.
Some might say, Lukas Van Ness is the TJ Watt we didn’t get.
Lukas Van Ness immediately should compete for snaps on an EDGE rushing rotation.
With Rashan Gary returning from an ACL injury, there’s no telling where he’ll be come week 1. You also factor in that this could be Preston Smith’s last season in a green and gold jersey.
Those facts alone make this a great pick for the Packers. Rashan Gary is a dominant force on the Edge. Put another dominating force on the other side of him, and the Packers defense is going to keep Quarterbacks in the NFC North up at night.
As I said before, Preston Smith is still there, but this could be his final Packers season. The Packers also have Kingsley Enagbare coming off a pretty decent rookie campaign. So, there’s no pressure for Van Ness to perform immediately. He will be part of an excellent rotation on the Edge.
Van Ness will also help seal the Edge in the running game with his abilities to get off the tackle. If he’s not the one stopping the runner in the backfield, he may be opening lanes for Quay Walker or DeVondre Campbell to get the tackle for loss.
With two high-end Edge Rushers in Rashan Gary and Lukas Van Ness on each side, I look forward to them both meeting at the Quarterback for years to come.
There’s only one way for this Packers defense to go. That’s up. With a ruthless, very athletic Edge Rusher in Lukas Van Ness added to the mix, this defense just got better. Time to go.
Go Pack Go
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.
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