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Cheese Curds, 4/28: Versatility should be Lukas Van Ness’ calling card

With experience playing both tackle and end, Van Ness should see plenty of snaps as a rookie, even though the Packers have a solid starting duo.

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Kent State v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

We know that the Green Bay Packers love versatile players, and their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is further evidence of that. Lukas Van Ness is the next Packers pick, the latest in a long string of first-rounders on the defensive side of the football.

But while the Packers have a solid starting duo of edge rushers already in Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, don’t assume that Van Ness will be sitting and waiting a year to get significant playing time. For one, Gary is recovering from a torn ACL, which should afford Van Ness an opportunity to start a few games early on in the season — something he did not do at Iowa because of that program’s commitment to giving the first snap of the game to seniors.

But beyond the Gary injury, Van Ness will likely force his way onto the field in myriad ways and at myriad positions. After all, he essentially played defensive tackle during his redshirt freshman season of 2021, and that’s a spot he should be asked to play again in certain situations.

Before looking ahead to picks 42 and 45 later on tonight, let’s look back at Thursday’s pick and his potential fit in Green Bay.

‘Expectations are high’ for Packers’ defense after another big investment |
Expectations should be high -- after all, the Packers have now used 12 of their last 13 first-round draft picks on that side of the football, with eight of them still on the roster.

Packers pass on premier pass-catcher for defensive help | Packers Wire
Did the Packers like Jaxon Smith-Njigba? Probably. But with pass rush being a premium position, the team's scouts were bigger fans of Van Ness.

Van Ness Goes From ‘Nice Young Kid’ to ‘Hercules’ - Sports Illustrated
After showing up to Iowa at just 220 pounds, Van Ness said he put on 60 pounds during his redshirt year to play defensive tackle, then moved out to end last season.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst on comparisons between Lukas Van Ness and Rashan Gary |
Van Ness has some of Gary's athletic gifts but with more experience rushing from the interior. Expect the Packers to find ways to get both on the field at the same time.

Why the Packers drafted Iowa edge Lukas Van Ness (nickname: ‘Hercules’) - The Athletic ($)
Van Ness' ability to rush from the inside will probably help the Packers' defensive line depth as well, particularly on third downs.

Cow on the loose in Niles - CBS Chicago
Chicago-area teenagers tried and failed at a senior prank. They should probably leave the livestock-related activities to their neighbors to the north.