The Green Bay Packers selected edge rusher Lukas Van Ness out of Iowa with the 13th overall pick in the NFL Draft. This continued general manager Brian Gutekunst’s trend of drafting a defensive player in the first round. In fact, the only time that the Packers, under Gutekunst, did not take a defensive player in the first round was when they drafted Jordan Love in 2020.
Related: Green Bay Packers Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry Is Under More Pressure Than Jordan Love
Despite their tendency to take defense first, many people were surprised/disappointed that they did not take a tight end or a wide receiver first. Now, while they addressed both of these needs in the second round, there is still a great deal of questions surrounding the decision to take Van Ness first. During his weekly segment “Under the Helmet with the Gravedigger” on The Earl Ingram Show, Packers legend Gilbert Brown discussed these questions and had one piece of advice for the young pass rusher.
Gilbert Brown’s Advice to New Green Bay Packers Edge Rusher Lukas Van Ness: “You Best Be Ready”
Host Earl Ingram began a portion of the show by revealing to Gilbert and the audience that one national talking head gave Brian Gutekunst a D+ grade for his drafting of Van Ness. He asked Gilbert why he thought that person might have given that grade, and Gilbert gave a thoughtful reply along with some sage advice for Van Ness himself:
“Like I said, I was expecting them to take the kid out of Notre Dame, the tight end. He was just all world at tight end, you know what I’m saying? Big dude. Gutekunst went out against the grain and took a defensive end first, or a linebacker, or whatever he is supposed to be.
“Now, you got Gary that is coming off of injury. You got Preston, that’s long in the tooth* the say, they say. And now you’ve got a kid that is arguably going to take one of those jobs. So coming into camp, this kid got to prove himself.
“They thinking that if [Gary’s] not ready to play Game One, then this kid will take his spot until he comes back ready. And then the kid is going to challenge somebody for their spot, which is going to make the other guys work just a little bit harder because they realize they got a young buck behind them ready to step in.
“But the question is, remember when I told you a couple weeks back, ‘You [college player] have been playing against the drunk off the stands. You’ve been playing against somebody’s girlfriend’s husband.’ Now, young man, you are coming into the League to play against everybody’s All-American, so you best be ready.”
*I am not going to lie, I had to Google the idiom “long in the tooth” and found out it means that somebody is old. At 31 years old, Preston Smith is truly one of the elder statesmen on the Packers team, which boast just four players over the age of 28.
It is truly remarkable to think about what the Packers’ starting lineup on offense and defense will be come Week One of the regular season. If Rashan Gary has not fully recovered from his torn ACL, there is no way that the team will rush him back. Van Ness could very well be starting if that is the case. However, the Packers also have Kingsley Enagbare from last year’s draft class on the roster, as well as veteran Justin Hollins. If Van Ness is to get regular snaps, he best be ready to beat out the competition on his own roster.
For more on Gilbert’s opinion on the draft and the newfound importance of the preseason games, listen to the show linked above.
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