Lukas Van Ness picked 13th overall by Green Bay Packers
Third-year sophomore becomes highest DL draft pick under Kirk Ferentz
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Two years ago, at this time, Lukas Van Ness was coming off a redshirt season with the Iowa football team and preparing to compete for playing time on a deep and talented defensive line.
And though he never became a starter for Iowa, Van Ness didn’t let that stop him from becoming a standout performer, and from joining a select group as a first-round pick in the NFL draft.
The Barrington, Illinois native achieved that rare milestone on Thursday when the Green Bay Packers selected him with the 13th pick overall in the first round.
Van Ness is the 12th former Iowa player to be picked in the first round under Kirk Ferentz dating back to 2000, and he is also the fifth Iowa player to be selected in the first round since 2019, and the highest drafted defensive lineman under Ferentz.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was picked 20th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011.
Van Ness, despite splitting playing time as a reserve, still led Iowa with 11 tackles for loss last season, and he also tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks.
He played both defensive tackle and defensive end for Iowa, which speaks volumes about his versatility and skill set.
A former star hockey player in high school, Van Ness said playing hockey helped him reach his potential in football because it gave him better balance and flexibility.
And while hockey is his first love, Van Ness became so big to where he realized that he had more upside in football.
With his combination of power, strength and explosiveness, Van Ness could be an interior lineman in the NFL, or an edge rusher.
His versatility is what separated Van Ness from most defensive linemen.