As the NFL season winds down, FantasyPros will be taking a look at early NFL draft scouting reports before the combine in March. Here’s a look at Lukas Van Ness.
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2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Lukas Van Ness (DE – Iowa)
DE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
6’5″ – 269 lbs.
Redshirted, then spent the past two seasons rotating into Iowa’s defense, often lining up in a two-point stance on either end of the defense. Totaled 462 snaps as a redshirt freshman and 478 this past season, with relatively similar lines of 33-8.5-7.0 in 2021 and 37-10.5-6.0 this past season before declaring for the draft.
Very well-built edge defender with ideal size for just about any team in the league. Was essentially a rotational end this past year, but still racked up plenty of big plays and shows a favorable trajectory. Plays the game with a tough, physical temperament and solid motor. Functional strength is advanced for his age and good enough to hold up against powerful tackles in the run game, with solid anchor strength. Gets good extension and shows the power in his hands to discard opponents and make stops. Gives a good effort in pursuit and closes quickly when he finds a lane to the ballcarrier.
Generates some pop on contact to help set the tone defensively. Predominantly a power-based rusher, but varies his approach relatively well on passing downs. Has an adequate first step and the shoulder dip to threaten around the edge with speed on occasion. Bullrush proved powerful enough to grind down even some of the top tackles in this year’s draft class; doesn’t shock on contact, but has the leg drive and strength to walk back opponents and collapse the pocket. Remains active with his hands even when his initial move is unsuccessful.
Pad level can be a little bit high at times, leading to occasional issues with balance. Would like to see more discipline in the run game; gets sucked in at times, creating opportunities for running backs to cut back and win outside positioning. Not really the type of defender who’s going to blow away opponents at the line with his first step or suddenness. Flexibility and bend are above average for his size, but about what you’d expect from a big edge defender. Can occasionally struggle with balance when redirecting inside off of his speed rush. Only took four snaps in coverage over the course of his career, and may not have ideal athleticism for that type of role.
A big, strong and tough edge defender who should be able to hold up immediately from a physical standpoint, and whose development trajectory is favorable. Would like to see him improve his pad level and discipline in the run game a little bit, but has the look of a starting strongside edge defender in a two-gap scheme, whether as a stand-up elephant linebacker in an odd front or with his hand in the dirt on a four-man line.
Projection: Round 1-2
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