On Thursday Night the Packers decided to help the defense by drafting linebacker Lukas Van Ness in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft with the 13th pick.

Van Ness will help out a Packers defense that had trouble last year getting to the quarterback after Rashan Gary got injured with a torn ACL.

Here is what you should know about the newest addition to the Packers team.

Van Ness originally was an interior defensive lineman

Van Ness started his college career in 2021 on the defensive line for the Hawkeyes. He played both defensive end and defensive tackle after redshirting his first year.

During the 2021 season Van Ness had 33 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and seven sacks.

He earned several awards that season including Freshman All-American by Football Writers Association of America.

Van Ness didn’t play football until his junior year of high school

Before he ever hit the football field Van Ness was hitting the ice rink.

He started playing hockey at the age of 6 and continued playing throughout high school before focusing on football.

While playing hockey at Barrington High school in Illinois he earned three letters in hockey.

He earned the nickname “Hercules” from his teammates at Iowa

Van Ness came into Iowa as a 6’5 225 pound defensive lineman and during his redshirt freshman year in college, he put in time in the weight room, putting on 60 pounds of muscle.

By the time he left Iowa he was at 272 pounds, had 34-inch arms and an 81¾-inch wingspan. That earned the nickname “Hercules” by his Iowa teammates.

Van Ness showed his freakish strength, size and speed at the NFL combine. He ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash and had a 1.64 10-yard split.

According to Packers.com, Van Ness say he doesn’t mind the nickname. “Honestly, I think it’s very fitting,” he says.

Van Ness went on to say that “I think it kind of gives me someone to idolize and it makes me laugh sometimes when people call me that.”

During his final year at Iowa Van Ness played linebacker

Van Ness played mainly off the edge his final year at Iowa. He also played on special teams. Although he never started a game during his time at Iowa, he played in close to 1,000 snaps the past two years.

Van Ness had 38 tackles, with 11 of those being behind the line of scrimmage, and six sacks.

He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors by both the coaches and media.


Hau Khuong has been a Packers fan since 1996. He currently works as a video editor in Green Bay and writes for PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @HauKhuongSports.