Lukas Van Ness has one of the more impressive NFL skill sets despite having never started a football game in college. In two seasons at Iowa, Van Ness earned Freshman All-American honors in 2021 and Second-Team All-American honors last season. The edge rusher’s presence on the outside of the line of scrimmage has NFL organizations eying him in the first round.
NFL Draft Profile: Lukas Van Ness
As a recruit, Van Ness was a three-star in the class of 2020 from Barrington, Illinois. He received five Power Five offers, but was largely under-recruited. He was outside the top 20 players in his home state, but Iowa saw potential and was able to land him. After redshirting in 2020, Van Ness played in 13 games in both 2021 and 2022. However, he never started a game in a Hawkeye uniform. That didn’t impact his numbers, as he led the team in 2022 in tackles for loss with 10.5, and was third on the team in sacks with six last season.
Van Ness finished his Iowa career with 70 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and 13 sacks. His quickness on the edge and ability to bull-rush outside lineman is beyond impressive. His film clearly shows his ability to attack the outside and put offensive linemen in incredibly difficult positions. Van Ness excels at firing off the snap and quickly engaging in the neutral zone. His arm length gives him the unique ability to long-arm rush the passer and generate definitive pocket pressure. Van Ness also produces substantial force in wide-alignment sets where he can use his speed and explosiveness to create that bull-rush momentum. At 6’-5” and 272 pounds, Van Ness ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
The former Hawkeye has a wide range of tools that are ideal for a first-round selection. However, his weaknesses can be seen in alignments on the interior defensive line. His inside pass rush sometimes stalls out, and he has an inconsistent body of work on the inside. Additionally, his hand usage in the pass rush is sub-optimal. However, he has big hands at 11”, and possesses the football acumen to acquire these missing traits at the next level.
NFL Draft Outlook
Van Ness will be a first-round selection in the NFL Draft this month, and several mock drafts have him showing up in the top 10. For a guy that never started a game in college, the NFL scouts see serious talent in Van Ness as a guy that has the ideal frame and intangibles to become an elite edge rusher at the next level. His pro comparison is Trey Hendrickson of the Cincinnati Bengals. Hendrickson is 6’-4” and 270 pounds and is a weapon on the edge for the Bengals.
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