The Falcons need pass rushers. Atlanta has been anemic at pressuring opposing quarterbacks for the better part of the last decade. It’s not just the EDGE unit; the interior could use bolstering, and the backend needs to do its part in coverage. Top to bottom, the Falcons need talent on the defensive side of the ball. And Daniel Jeremiah has the team doing just that in his first 2023 NFL mock draft, where he has the Falcons selecting Lukas Van Ness out of Iowa.
Lukas Van Ness, Edge
Van Ness is extremely explosive and has the versatility to play up and down the line. He is a finisher as a pass rusher and he can overpower blockers in the run game. He should test very well in the spring.
The Iowa defender actually wasn’t going to leave the Hawkeyes program until receiving feedback that he would be going in the first round. Over the last two years, Van Ness has posted 69 (nice) tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, and 12 sacks. The Falcons could use that kind of production.
He’s the quintessential football player that doesn’t physically look overly impressive but is supposedly a freak athlete. His deceptive combination of length, strength, and football IQ makes him a terror for opposing offensive linemen. During his first season at Iowa, he pretty much exclusively played along the interior, then moved to the edge, where he played very well against some of the top tackles in college football.
He’s one of Pro Football Focus’ most underrated prospects entering the 2023 NFL draft.
“This is an incredibly deep edge rusher class with so many different styles and body shapes,” PFF wrote. “Nonetheless, one of our favorites is Lukas Van Ness, who is among the best power rushers in the class, as he posted an 18.8% pass-rush win rate this season. He’s faced some pretty good competition over the last few years, including Northwestern’s Peter Skorkonski and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson.”
Get ready to see a lot of Falcons mock drafts bolstering the pass rush.