Yesterday, the Green Bay Packers signed first round pick (13th overall) Lukas Van Ness to his rookie deal. Unlike many rookies, Van Ness’ contract is fully guaranteed by the Packers.
Following his signing, Van Ness shared this post on his Instagram page:
As one can see, several of his new Packers teammates commented their congratulations to him on this amazing occasion.
“Bot time Luke boi.” – Tucker Kraft
“Congratulations brotha.” -AJ Dillon
Van Ness’s message, however, is one to help inspire others:
“Set Goals. Persevere. Always believe in yourself. Beyond blessed to be a part of this team. Excited to wear the green & gold!! 🧀🧀 #gopackgo,”
Other Green Bay Packers Players Offer Lukas Van Ness Well Wishes
Scrolling down on the post, there are many other Packers players who took to Instagram to congratulate Van Ness:
“Yessir!!!” -Kenny Clark
“Let’s go Hercules!” -Kenneth Odumegwu
How Will Lukas Van Ness Affect the Green Bay Packers Defense This Season?
The Green Bay Packers do not normally start their rookie edge rushers from the get-go. Just look at Rashan Gary, who played just 24% of the defense’s snaps during his rookie season.
Then again, Gary had both Preston Smith and an actually motivated Za’Darius Smith ahead of him on the depth chart. Now, Gary is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL, but is recovering from a torn ACL.
Preston Smith remains a high-quality starter, but Gary’s timetable to return is unknown. If he is unable to play in Week One, Van Ness could very well see the field early and often.
According to PFF, Van Ness had an overall defensive grade of 80.2. He had a run defense grade of 80.9 and a pass rush trade of 74.3. Using these grades, it is a possibility that Van Ness could bring some help to the run defense in 2023. Of course, that aspect of the defense has been awful in Green Bay for some time.
As Mike Spofford notes here, though, Van Ness does not have the physical traits to be a “hand-in-the-dirt” run defender. He, along with the rest of the defense, will need to fill their gaps and shed blocks. He has the speed and athleticism to help contain the run on the outside, but others will need to step up in the interior to ensure no big games occur there.