As I’ve discussed multiple times this offseason. Outside of another cornerback opposite of Tariq Woolen, I think the defensive line is the area that needs to be addressed the most heavily by the Seattle Seahawks. This is a deep defensive line class both on the outside and interior which will help Seattle bolster it throughout the three days of the draft. In this article we are going to evaluate Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness.
Height - 6 foot 5 - Weight - 270 pounds
- Van Ness’ best attribute is the power he has in his hands and his overall play strength. His hands were evident when he bullrushed, as they were heavy enough to push blockers back at the first point of contact. His hand placement on his bullrushes was precise as they were always square into the chest plate of the blocker. He shows off very good (7, scale of 1-9) play strength routinely, able to consistently fight through blockers and is extremely difficult to anchor down against.
- In the running game he was able to set both interior and outside offensive lineman back at the point of contact, which allowed him to control the line of scrimmage. He did a great job of striking the lineman right in the chest and then immediately extending his arms in order for him to control the tempo of the block as well as to make it easier for him to disengage from the blocker. He uses this frequently when lined up as a 5-tech or wider to help him control the edge. When in that position, he shows off his good (6) FBI (football intelligence) as he immediately gets up field and gets his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage to take away any runs to the c gap or wider. He did not only use his length when lined up on the outside against the run as he tried to shove guards off in order for him to be able to two gap on the inside.
- Like in the passing game he was able to get lower enough to gain leverage on interior offensive lineman, meaning he was able to drive them back into the running lane. He was able to use his upper body strength in the running game to shove interior offensive lineman aside on plays run to the inside.
- He has the get off and upper body strength from a 3-point stance to defeat reach blocks, allowing him to block up outside running plays.
- Van Ness is a good form tackler as he goes to wrap up ball carries rather than throwing his shoulder right into them.
- He has a very high motor in the running game which does allow him to make chase down tackles from behind.
- Van Ness has a very shallow pass rushing repertoire. He has the upper body and hands strength to have at least an average rip move, but it was something that hardly showed up on tape. Additionally, Van Ness has fantastic length which when paired with his hands should allow him to have at least an average long arm move, although this was also rarely something that was shown by him.
- He did not reduce the space between tackles and himself very quickly when in a two-point on the edge.
- His bullrush slipped off a bit as well when on the outside in a two point. Outside of his very infrequent rip or long arm move, Van Ness showed zero ability to attack either shoulder of a lineman. Almost all of his pressure came from rushing through the blocker rather than going around them when in 1-on-1 situations. He did not show much of any bend on the edge, nor did he have any speed to the outside.
- Van Ness lacks any type of counter move, meaning once he was stood up, outside of effort pressures as the play broke down, he had no ability to get home. In these moments he never worked on replacing his hands in an attempt to beat the blocker, he kept them in the same spot the entire play.
- Van Ness didn’t play in coverage for Iowa so no impact should be expected in that department at the NFL level.
Van Ness projects best as a two down starting edge who can play both in 3-4 and 4-3 fronts. Whichever front he is playing in he needs to be playing in a 3-point stance as he looked stronger and quicker as a defender with a hand in the dirt rather than standing upright.
Van Ness’ combination of heavy hands, motor, versatility, first step quickness out of a three-point stance, bull rush and abilities against the run give him the ceiling of a 3-down starter, however his unrefined pass rushing arsenal, lack of coverage experience and little bend gives him the floor of a high-end backup with positional flexion.
Grade (First day of second season) - Low end starter - Mid second
Van Ness is a force against the running game and offers inside/outside flexion which automatically makes him a valuable piece to any defensive line rotation and almost guarantees that he will make some sort of impact in his rookie season. However, there is a lot of work that Van Ness has to do in order as a pass rusher to become a defender who sees the field consistently on third downs and in obvious passing situations. The physical traits are there for him to become a player who can get 8 or more sacks a season, it is just a matter of if he can add more to his arsenal on the edge. If he brought more to the table as a rusher, he would have gotten a first round grade from me, however Van Ness is a lot more projection than impact as a pass rusher at the NFL level.