In Last Word on Sports’ latest mock draft by Mike Kashuba, the Baltimore Ravens select ascending prospect Lukas Van Ness. Out of Michigan, Van Ness is one of the draft’s biggest risers, with the edge rusher now in the mid-to-late first-round conversation. The Ravens have the 22nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, making Van Ness a possibility.
“Van Ness is a bit of a one-trick pony when it comes to pass-rushing. But man, that one trick is good. He opens with a speed rush around the edge, and if the tackle is quick enough to cut him off, he is met with a transition to a bullrush out of a Madden game,” writes Kashuba.
There has some been chatter around #Iowa Edge Lukas Van Ness going in the 1st & I’m For it.
6’5 264lb – 7 sacks in 2022.
High motor/Power edge type
Lukas vs projected 1st rounders:
Paris Johnson & Peter Skoronski 👀
Straight up pancakes Skoronski!!!
— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) January 20, 2023
Edge rusher is currently one of Baltimore’s top needs. It sits behind wide receiver and cornerback, but the team could do with some youth, impact and longevity at the position. Van Ness ticks all those boxes and, thus, would be a quality pick for the Ravens here. He is also a scheme fit for the team and would slot into the 3-4 5-technique role (with the potential to kick inside too).
In Kashuba’s mock draft, the Ravens passed up on wide receiver Zay Flowers, cornerback Cam Smith and edge rushers Nolan Smith, Andre Carter II and B.J. Ojulari. The top wide receivers (Quentin Johnston, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jordan Addison) were all off the board, as were most of the top cornerbacks (Devon Witherspoon, Christian Gonzalez and Joey Porter Jr.). Given some of the concerns with Flowers having inconsistent hands, passing on him would make sense. However, with good edge rushers still on the board, the Ravens could trade down in this scenario. They could also trade up five to eight spots to try and acquire one of the top receivers.
Baltimore Ravens Select Lukas Van Ness in Mock Draft
As it stands, the team’s starting edge rushers for 2023 will likely be Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo. Both Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul are set to be free agents.
Ojabo suffered an Achilles injury in the lead up to the 2022 NFL Draft. It meant that he began the year on IR, before returning to practice midseason. He recorded his first sack in the Wild Card Round, flashing his potential. With a full offseason ahead, expect Ojabo to be ready to contribute in 2023. Currently, Oweh will be the starter opposite Ojabo. Oweh had an uninspired 2022 season and is divisive among the Baltimore fanbase. At times, he gets flushed too easily and is not aggressive enough. His lack of development in pass rush moves since being drafted is also alarming.
Van Ness offers a slightly different skillset to both Ojabo and Oweh. While Ojabo and Oweh are primarily speed rushers, Van Ness has much more power and strength. His high motor and surprising burst are also impressive. He is regarded as an impact starter with a very high ceiling currently.
The concern with Van Ness, however, is his inexperience. This could certainly deter the Ravens from drafting him. The 6’5” pass rusher was a rotational player at college and has never started a game. He has also only been an edge rusher for one year. He was deployed as an interior defensive lineman in 2021. Inexperience has been the downfall of Oweh so far, and Ojabo was also an inexperienced prospect in 2022. Selecting another inexperienced edge rusher could be a risk. However, perhaps Eric DeCosta appreciates the high ceiling of inexperienced prospects. Having drafted Oweh and Ojabo, that could be a sign that Van Ness is someone that the Ravens would be interested in.
Main Photo: Jeffrey Becker – USA Today Sports