The Packers added a lot of new faces to the team in the 2023 NFL Draft. Their first selection in the draft was Lukas Van Ness, an explosive EDGE from Iowa. Van Ness, nicknamed Hercules, will join a talented group of pass rushers and try to make an immediate impact for the Packers.
Lukas Van Ness: Background
Van Ness is an Illinois native and grew up a Chicago Bears fan. Van Ness is dating the sister of the Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet. However, he is now a member of their rival, the green and gold.
Van Ness is an exceptional athlete. His build, stature, and ability all combine to make him a force on the field. The Packers are hoping that he can make a quick impact.
Van Ness attended Barrington High School and was a multi-sport athlete. Van Ness played both hockey and football. He was a three-star recruit coming out of high school and eventually committed to Iowa. Despite not being a starter at Iowa because of their seniority starting policy, he heard his name called on the first day of the NFL Draft.
"Starting a game or not, that's just a process in the way the Uiversity of Iowa does things. They were fair and consistent with everyone. I waited my turn. I had a couple older guys in front of me. Regardless, I still had some of the highest snaps on defense. What I realized is everytime you get out on the field you have an opportunity to prove yourself."
Lukas Van Ness: NFL Combine & College Stats
The Packers have been keen on drafting players who test well athletically under Brian Gutekunst. Van Ness clearly fits their type. He had a RAS score of 9.39.
Lukas Van Ness was drafted with pick 13 of round 1 in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.39 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 101 out of 1634 DE from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/tH8vupY0bv pic.twitter.com/kYCxCP4WIE
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 28, 2023
Lukas Van Ness posted a 4.58 40-yard dash and a 31" vertical. His combination of speed and ability to get vertical make him an interesting piece on the Packers' defense. The Packers are not only getting a fast and strong pass rusher, but they are also getting length and size with Van Ness. His physical traits certainly give him the ability to play in multiple positions.
"“He’s a very versatile player, which was important to us. He’s a different player than [Za'Darius Smith] was, but he is going to be able to do a lot of the same things as far as we used to move [Za'Darius] inside and rushing. I think his best football is ahead of him. He’s a guy that’s going to move inside and out.”
– Brian Gutekunst on Van Ness' versatility
In just 26 games at Iowa, Van Ness posted 13 sacks, 19.0 tackles for a loss, and 70 tackles. If the Packers can find a way to get him on the field with Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, opposing teams will have problems matching up with the Packers' pass rush.
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