Lukas Van Ness Draft Profile

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In each NFL Draft process, teams around the league fall in love with an under-the-radar player due to his elite traits and intriguing potential to develop into a star in the NFL. While most college football fans are not familiar with Iowa 6’5″ 269 lb. defensive end Lukas Van Ness, he is a hot name in the scouting community. It remains a mystery why he never started a game at Iowa, but don’t be shocked if you hear his name called in the first round! Let’s dive into the tape and see what Van Ness has to offer.

Strengths: Van Ness possesses great size, length, and power. He consistently uses his length to get into the offensive lineman’s chest and has an outstanding bull rush that allows him to collapse the pocket by pushing his opponent into the quarterback’s space. Van Ness has a good burst off the snap too and shows the ability to convert speed into power. He is agile laterally and can cross the blocker’s face to attack his inside shoulder. Van Ness’ athleticism is evident in space. He shows great ability to change direction when chasing down mobile quarterbacks, makes plays in pursuit against the run, and can be depended on for coverage duties in shallow zone coverage or picking up check-down options. Van Ness excels against the run not only because of his impressive range of playmaking ability for a defensive lineman, but primarily because of his strength and the point of attack to disengage and make the tackle in the hole. Van Ness offers versatility in his alignment, as he played primarily on the edge at Iowa but effectively slid inside on certain downs. 

Weaknesses: He’s a raw prospect whose technique leaves a lot to be desired. While his bull rush is elite, it is his only reliable move as a pass-rusher. He must develop a pass-rush plan and arsenal of moves to succeed in the NFL. In his rush, he tends to let the upper half of his body get ahead of his lower half at times, which can lead to balance issues. Improving his hand technique against the run could allow him to get off blocks even more often. Van Ness is on the larger side of edge rushers and while he is quite athletic, he does not show much ability to bend around the blocker’s outside shoulder and flatten to the quarterback. Van Ness was not a starter at Iowa, which is quite odd given that he was by far the most talented player on Iowa’s defensive line. 

Bottom Line: Van Ness is a name that is going to become really hot as we get closer to the NFL Draft, much like Travon Walker’s did over the course of the process in 2022. Similarly to Walker, Van Ness boasts a tantalizing combination of size and athleticism, offering him a high NFL ceiling. While he flashes on the field and has an extremely dangerous bull rush, he does need to improve his pass-rush technique significantly. He also does not profile as an edge rusher who regularly bends around the edge. Van Ness’ floor might be lower than most would like for a first-round prospect, but if he develops correctly, he could become a Pro Bowl type of player.