The Green Bay Packers used their first round pick (#13 overall) to take edge rusher Lukas Van Ness out of Iowa. Van Ness joins seven other former first round picks on a Packers defense that will hope to be much improved in 2023. Van Ness, nicknamed Hercules, did not start any games at Iowa, though did find himself on the field for more snaps than the starting edge rushers. Still, many fans are already calling him a bust and a reach. In his month column on packers.com where he answers five fan questions, President and CEO Mark Murphy responded to some of that criticism of Van Ness.
Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy Compares Lukas Van Ness to Clay Matthews
One fan asked Murphy if the Packers were at all concerned that Van Ness did not start any games with the Iowa Hawkeyes. Murphys responded:
“Brian [Gutekunst] and his staff do an excellent job preparing for the draft. It is exciting to see all their work come together. With regard to your question, I would not be concerned that Van Ness wasn’t a starter. He redshirted his first year, and only played two seasons at Iowa. His head coach at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz, is a bit of a traditionalist, and he started upperclassmen ahead of Van Ness.
“Van Ness played a lot of snaps in both seasons and was usually on the field during the key parts of the game. It is more important to be a finisher than a starter. Also, we heard similar concerns when we drafted Clay Matthews, and he turned out to be a great player for us.”
When the Packers drafted Matthews, he had played in 47 games with the USC Trojans in four years. In that time, Matthews had 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks. In contrast, Van Ness played a total of 26 games at Iowa and total 19.0 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks.
Matthews absolutely exploded once he got to the NFL and is one of the best pass rushers in team history. If Green Bay got another stud pass rusher in Van Ness, well, that is very exciting.
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