The Green Bay Packers, once again, drafted defense first when it came their turn to pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Of course, they used that selection on Lukas Van Ness from Iowa. Green Bay is slowly but surely building up quality young depth at the position with Rashan Gary, Kingsley Enagbare, and now Van Ness to compliment veterans Justin Hollins and Preston Smith. With Gary possibly missing the start of the season as he recovers from a torn ACL, there are concerns regarding the effectiveness of the Packers’ pass rush. However, many analysts and coaches believe that Van Ness will be able to make a positive impact on the defense on Day One.
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Green Bay Packers Coach Jerry Montgomery Compares Lukas Van Ness to Za’Darius Smith
A few weeks ago, Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy compared Van Ness to legendary Packers pass rusher Clay Matthews. On Thursday, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery compared him to another former Pro Bowl Packers edge rusher:
“I think the biggest thing is most outside rushers have the ability to bend, (use) speed and get off the edge. But the guys that have to come inside, you can’t always just win with speed inside. You’ve got to have some type of power element, and that’s something that (Za’Darius Smith) had, and this is something that Van Ness has. He has the power, just like Rashan does, when he gets healthy, to be able to go in there and be an effective rusher.”
While the name Za’Darius Smith may draw ridicule and other negative reactions from Packers fans now, there is no denying how great he was in his first two seasons with Green Bay. Before the mysterious “back injury,” Smith made two Pro Bowls and notched 26 sacks in those two seasons. What really made him effective was his ability to boost the interior pass rush. It is no coincidence that that facet of the Packers’ defense declined since he checked out.
If what Montgomery says is true, Van Ness will not only help the outside pass rush, but will also make life easier for Kenny Clark, TJ Slaton, and Devonte Wyatt by boosting the interior pass rush.
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