Iowa football's Lukas Van Ness selected by the Green Bay Packers with No. 13 pick in the NFL Draft

Kennington Lloyd Smith III
Des Moines Register

Lukas Van Ness' elite athletic traits and pass rush ability shot him up draft boards after three years at Iowa despite never officially starting a game.

Now, the high-ceiling defensive lineman is the 12th first-round draft pick in the Kirk Ferentz era. Van Ness was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 13 overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

Van Ness, a former three-star recruit from Barrington, Illinois had a somewhat brief stint as a Hawkeye. He redshirted in 2021 and then recorded 13½ sacks over the 2022 and 2023 seasons (both seasons tied for the team lead or outright lead) while playing defensive tackle and defensive end. His versatility across the defensive line is another reason why he was so coveted by NFL teams. Ahead of the draft, he was rated as the  No. 10 overall prospect in the draft by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler and No. 14 by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.

He solidified himself as a first-round pick at February's NFL Scouting Combine. His athletic ability was on display as he finished with a Relative Athletic Score (an NFL Combine measuring tool) of 9.22 out of 10. At 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds with 4.5 second 40-yard dash speed, Van Ness has the unique ability to maintain his weight and continue to shift throughout the defensive line as a plug-and-play piece. He's also a valued special teams contributor, Van Ness blocked two kicks last season at Iowa and was once named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.

Now, he will travel to Green Bay as a key piece to a defense that's added first-round talent in recent years. Van Ness is Iowa's second consecutive first-round pick, joining center Tyler Linderbaum who was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the opening round last year. Entering this weekend's draft, Iowa ranked third in the Big Ten Conference with 52 draft picks since 2009.