Packers pick Iowa defensive end Lukas Van Ness in first round

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 9:46 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2023 at 3:41 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Packers picked defensive end Lukas Van Ness from Iowa with their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Instead of picking an offensive player to build around quarterback Jordan Love, Brian Gutekunst instead electing to solidify his defensive front. Green Bay lost Dean Lowry to free agency, and will be without pass rusher Rashan Gary early in the season while he recovers from a torn ACL.

Van Ness, who did not start for the Hawkeyes last season, was able to earn second team All-Big Ten honors after registering 6.5 sacks last season. The third year lineman out of Barrington, Ill. also contributed on special teams with a pair of blocked punts last season against Iowa State. And he is a very versatile player on the defensive front.

“By my sophomore year they actually bumped me in to playing defensive tackle which was super beneficial for my development as a player,” Van Ness said. “I learned how to play inside, which is a faster game, you’ve got to be really good with your pad level, your balance, your hands. I just had to learn a physical brand of football. And getting the opportunity to bump back outside this year, I grew up playing defensive end and that’s where I feel comfortable. That is where I can use my tools and excel. They bumped me outside and I feel I was able to take what I learned playing defensive tackle and move it outside, play a physical brand of football, use my length on the edge, use my power and really impact the game to help my team win.”

At the Draft Combine Van Ness ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash. That was tied for sixth among defensive linemen and edge rushers this year.

Growing up Van Ness’ first love was actually hockey and played all the way until his senior year of high school. His goal was to play at the highest level and football gave him the best chance at doing that. Van Ness also credited playing hockey for helping his game on the football field with skills like being quick on his feet, being physical, and the ability to react quickly.

After heading to Iowa as a three star recruit, Van Ness took advantage of his redshirt year in 2020 by putting on 60 pounds.