3 Reasons For Concern About Packers’ Rookie Lukas Van Ness

Lukas Van Ness, Packers
NFL Analysis Network

The Green Bay Packers surprised a lot of people when their first-round pick of the 2023 NFL Draft was announced. Despite not a single wide receiver or tight end being selected, they opted to go in a different direction.

Green Bay used its first-round pick, No. 13 overall, on Iowa defensive end Lukas Van Ness. They kept their streak alive of not selecting a wide receiver in the first round, which dates back to 2002 when they selected Javon Walker out of Florida State.

While fans and many analysts were clamoring for the Packers to pick a pass catcher to help new starting quarterback, Jordan Love, Van Ness does fill a need. With Rashan Gary recovering from an ACL tear and Preston Smith turning 31 later this year, a pass rusher is certainly a need for the team.

Van Ness has a relentless motor and vast potential to become an excellent contributor at the next level. Alas, there are a few things to take note of that are areas of concern for him entering the NFL. CBS Sports revealed some of the areas of weakness that he needs to work on in his scouting report.

  • Bend is lacking
  • At times spends too much time grappling with blockers
  • Wasn’t a full-time player in 2022

The bend mentioned by Pete Prisco is something that elite edge rushers possess. It means they can get underneath and around a blocker while creating a path to get to the quarterback. Bend is tough to teach, but with some coaching and adjustments to his technique, the knock in his grappling with blockers can be reduced.

Not being a full-time player is arguably the biggest knock against Van Ness. He didn’t start a single game with the Hawkeyes. Instead, he was part of a rotation along the defensive end. Despite not being full-time he remained productive with 19 tackles for loss and 13 sacks across 26 games in two seasons.

Handling what could be an increased workload at the next level could take some time to adjust to. However, Van Ness does have a very high ceiling and could be a foundational piece for the Packers’ defense off the edge for years to come.