By Charlie Campbell
Summary: The vast majority of redshirt sophomores return to school, but Van Ness was a surprising early-entrant into the 2023 NFL Draft. In 2022, Van Ness recorded 36 tackles and 6.5 sacks. He notched 33 stops and seven sacks in 2021. While Van Ness is a young player in need of additional development, he decided to move on from Iowa and jump to the next level.
Van Ness is a high-effort pass rusher who does well at picked up coverage sacks. He does not win cleanly against offensive linemen and really struggles to shed blocks. Thanks to not using his hands well, Van Ness gets caught up a lot by offensive linemen. Van Ness also lacks pass-rushing moves, and he is a stiff athlete who does not show wiggle as a rusher. For the NFL, Van Ness needs to improve significantly in his hand usage and develop his pass-rushing repertoire.
In the ground game, Van Ness is generally reliable at holding his gap. He does not get knocked off the ball and is able to set the edge. Van Ness shows sufficient instincts to stay home on misdirection plays and flow to the ball with good angles on stretch runs.
Van Ness definitely has the body to play base end in the NFL. He would probably fit best as an end in a 4-3 defense rather than a standup outside linebacker in a 3-4. For a 3-4 scheme, he would be better off gaining weight and playing five-technique.
Some team sources say they have Van Ness graded on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, while he has gotten some media hype as a first-rounder. That gap suggests perhaps there are teams out there that feel Van Ness is worthy of a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Carl Nassib. Van Ness is a bit like Nassib coming out of Penn State. Both were strong and tough with some straight-line speed, but also stiff athletes who had some limitations.
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