How high will Iowa pass rusher Lukas Van Ness go in the draft? … and other NFL draft news

NFL Draft News

Is Lukas Van Ness a lock to go in the first round?

Not necessarily.

The Iowa pass rusher, ranked No. 9 in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board, is widely regarded as a Day 1 prospect despite never starting a game for the Hawkeyes. A full-time hockey player until high school, Van Ness has 13 sacks total in his three years with Iowa, including a career-high 7.0 as a redshirt sophomore. He had 6 this past season, along with 37 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler was among the first draft analysts to peg Van Ness as a potential first-rounder. It was long before other analysts hoped on the Van Ness bandwagon.

Now he’s ranked anywhere from the third-best pass rusher to the seventh-best, as rates him.

The problem with Van Ness isn’t traits – those traits are the reason he’s ranked so high. Nicknamed “Hercules,” the 6-foot-5, 272-pound Van Ness wowed at the Combine, running an impressive 4.58 40. As MockDraftable shows, Van Ness checks a lot of boxes.


Still, his lack of experience or eye-opening stats may give some teams pause. Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes, whose team owns the Nos. 6 and 18 pick in the upcoming draft, talked about the challenges of selecting a player high in the draft with little to no starting experience. (Holmes was talking generally, not about Van Ness specifically).

Here’s what Holmes told The Athletic: “I’d probably be a little hesitant because you always want to forecast and you want to get more of a sure thing, especially when you’re picking that high

Likewise, Bob Sturm, a radio host at KTCK The Ticket in Dallas and a Cowboys writer for The Athletic, said there are too many unknowns to draft Van Ness high. From Sturm: “He is not the easiest study because he seems raw and probably would have really benefited from another year at Iowa.”

Sturm gave Van Ness a first-second round grade.

Twitter was abuzz on Friday with the news that Van Ness was visiting Philadelphia, which has two first-round picks. The only question is, is the team thinking about him with their pick at No. 10 overall or their pick at No. 30?



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Free agency has provided a little clarity in terms of teams’ draft needs. Of note:

* Could Dallas have found a starting wideout and cornerback in the fifth round? Probably not. But that’s the price the team paid (plus a sixth in 2024) to acquire cornerback Stephon Gilmore and receiver Brandin Cooks. Dallas can now focus on the interior of either side of the line, still big needs.

* Speaking of the Cowboys … don’t be surprised if at least one of these two players is drafted by Dallas: Steven Gilmore or Deuce Vaughn. Gilmore, a cornerback from Marshall, is the younger brother of Stephon and is the No. 204 overall prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Rigdon big board. Vaughn, the running back out of Kansas State, is the son of Chris Vaughn, a long-time scout for Dallas. He’s ranked No. 162.

* What will New York do about its receiving corps? After the big trade for star tight end Darren Waller, the team took a quantity-over-quality approach to shoring up its receivers by re-signing Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Isaiah Hodgins, then signing Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder in free agency. Therefore, it appears the Giants are hoping to land a receiver in the first round. However, that approach may back New York into a corner, as the receiving group in this draft isn’t very deep. In other words, if the Giants don’t take a receiver on Day 1, they might be disappointed by who’s left on Day 2. That means the team either has to over-draft one on Day 1 or maybe skip the position altogether until the later rounds.

* More on the receivers in this draft … Houston also needs help at receiver in this draft, especially after trading Cooks. The Texans signed Robert Woods in free agency after his one (disappointing) season in Tennessee, but after that, the cupboard is bare at the position for the Texans. Some analysts think the Texans may pick multiple receivers in this draft, despite it being labelled as an average to below-average receiver class.

* Is Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs one of the four-best players in this draft? That’s what an AFC director for player personnel told Walter Football in the most recent Hot Press Report. Here’s what the director said: “We only have four players with an elite grade. … Bijan Robinson, Will Anderson, Jalen Carter and Jahmyr Gibbs. We have Gibbs just a hair behind Robinson.”

* Alabama held its Pro Day on Thursday, and all eyes were on QB Bryce Young, who’s in the running to be the No. 1 pick. To summarize how things went, according to media reports: Young looked good. In other words, not much to report. Star pass rusher Will Anderson, a potential top-5 pick, declined to work out.

* Utah also held its pro day on Thursday, but top tight end Dalton Kincaid was unable to work out while recovering from a back injury. Kincaid, the No. 19 overall prospect, reportedly did not have surgery to fix the plate compression fractures in his T7 and T8 vertebrae under medical advice, according to He’s now cleared to begin working out and will be cleared for contact in six months.


Jake Rigdon (@jrigdon73) covers the NFL draft for His big board is updated at least once per week during the season and leading up to the draft. Message him on Twitter to receive $3 off your new Ultimate GM subscription.


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