Lukas Van Ness | Iowa 6’5” 272 lbs. | 07/06/2001 (21)
Lukas Van Ness was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, becoming the third Edge Rusher and 13th overall player selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Lukas Van Ness earned first-team all-state notice his senior year in Illinois before signing with the Hawkeyes for the 2020 season. He redshirted as a true freshman and did not appear in any games. As you may have already heard, Lukas Van Ness never started a game in college at Iowa. However, he stood out in a big way in 2021, recording 33 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, and a team-high seven sacks in 14 appearances to earn Freshman All-American notice.
As a rotational defender in 2022, he still garnered second-team All-Big Ten accolades after again leading the Hawkeyes with TFLs and 6.5 sacks among his 38 tackles in 13 games played. He also blocked two kicks last season.
Van Ness is a physical specimen who possesses ideal size and strength. Truly a rare combination of size, length, power, and speed, Lukas Van Ness has immense upside as a pro, as many evaluators believe his best football is ahead of him. As an edge defender, power is the name of his game—in both rushing the passer and defending the run. His ability to get into the pads of offensive linemen and drive them backward with ease stands out on tape.
Van Ness needs to work on counter-attacks as a pass rusher and needs to develop some hand-fighting moves and better technique for disengaging with blockers. If he continues to bulk up, he could take meaningful snaps inside, as well as on the edge. This selection is a projection and traits-based evaluation, as Van Ness is more of a big-play splash player than he is a consistent force at this point in his career, but Green Bay is betting that his traits should allow for elite development and high-end production as a pro.
Lukas Van Ness ran an impressive 4.58 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, with a 10-yard split of 1.64. His jumps were less impressive, with a 31” vertical and an impressive 9’10” broad jump. For his size, they are respectable. Van Ness recorded a 7.02 three-cone drill and a more impressive 4.32 in the short shuttle. He pushed 17 reps on the bench press and also completed positional drills for coaches.
Rapid Reaction to Draft Capital: Excellent
Rapid Reaction to Landing Spot: Great
Van Ness was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.
Lukas Van Ness lands in a pretty nice spot in Green Bay, as they have established starting edge rushers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith already in place. Van Ness will have an opportunity to develop and learn from them as he develops his pass-rush skills. He is an ideal fit in the Packers’ scheme though, as he can reduce down inside with a hand on the ground on passing downs. He played over a third of his snaps at Iowa as a defensive tackle. Van Ness should be an immediate rotational contributor as Rashan Gary eases back from an ACL injury, but probably will not produce as much as the #13 overall draft capital leads us to believe. He should be the eventual replacement for Preston Smith and by 2025 should be a top-15 edge defender if he can develop to his full potential.
Lukas Van Ness is your author’s DE7 of this very strong IDP Edge rookie class, but we must exercise patience due to his early selection being based on projection. He should become a reliable scorer in most IDP formats by 2024 and if he reaches his full potential can be viewed as a borderline DE1 in 2025 and beyond. Expect to see him drafted in the mid-to-late third round of dynasty rookie drafts.
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