Former Hawkeye Lukas Van Ness picked by Green Bay Packers in first round of NFL Draft

The defensive lineman went No. 13 overall on Thursday night.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness dives for South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski during a football game between Iowa and South Dakota State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Jackrabbits, 7-3.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Former Hawkeye defensive edge Lukas Van Ness is headed to Green Bay.

The Green Bay Packers picked Van Ness with the 13th selection in the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

Green Bay traded two spots up to No. 13 as part of a blockbuster trade involving veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers traded Rodgers, the No. 15 pick, and a fifth-round selection in exchange for the No. 13 pick, a 2023 second and sixth-round pick, and a conditional 2024 pick.

The Packers picked Van Ness to fill a hole left by veteran edge rusher Rashan Gary, who tore his ACL in November 2022. Gary tallied six sacks in nine games for the Packers before his season-ending injury.

With the pick, Van Ness gave the Hawkeye football program its fifth first-round pick in the last five years. 

Former Hawkeye center Tyler Linderbaum was drafted 25th overall to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2022 NFL Draft, offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs went 13th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, and tight ends TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant were both drafted in the first round — eighth to the Detroit Lions and 20th to the Denver Broncos, respectively — in 2019.

Van Ness joined the Hawkeyes in 2020, redshirting his first season. 

The Barrington, Illinois, product recorded seven sacks as a second-string defensive lineman in his redshirt freshman season in 2021, earning freshman All-America honors by the Football Writers Association of America.

Van Ness turned heads in his sophomore season with the Hawkeyes in 2022, racking up a team-leading 6.5 sacks as a second-string lineman.

“I had two older classmen in front of me; that’s just kind of the way the University of Iowa does things,” Van Ness told Sports Illustrated at the NFL Combine in March. “They’re always fair and consistent with everybody and regardless, I still had some of the higher snaps on the defensive line. And I just learned through this process that every time I step on the field, I have an opportunity to prove myself.”

Van Ness was also an established special teams player for the Hawkeyes, and he proved his worth with two blocked punts in Iowa’s game against Iowa State on Sept. 10, 2022.

“Lukas is a really good case study, right,” special teams coordinator Levar Woods said. “Big guy, can run, long, explosive. All things you see from him on the defensive end … in the NFL, it’s all about value, creating value for yourself, bringing value to the football team. And I think he can do all those things. He’s just one of those guys.”

At the NFL Combine, Van Ness measured to be 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds. Even with his size, he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, including a 1.64 10-yard split. 

Van Ness was projected to be as high as a No. 6 pick in the draft on Thursday night. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports put Van Ness to Detroit with the sixth selection, as the Lions have two linemen who are entering the final year of their contracts.

The Atlanta Falcons, who had the No. 8 pick, also hosted Van Ness for a private workout with general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith, according to Sports Illustrated.