Packers, Lions Trade Proposal Brings ‘Explosive’ Pass Rusher to Green Bay

Getty The Green Bay Packers could add a pass rusher in the 2023 NFL Draft by trading with the Lions.

The Green Bay Packers need some more talent when it comes to rushing the passer in 2023, and an NFC North rival in the Detroit Lions could help them with that while also landing their quarterback of the future in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Following the 20-16 Lions victory over the Packers in Week 18 to spoil Green Bay’s hopes of a playoff appearance, there may still be some hard feelings between the two teams. However, both franchises need to make some moves if they hope to make a Super Bowl run next season.

Dane Brugler with The Athletic suggested a mutually beneficial trade between the two sides in his latest 2023 mock draft. In the mock, the Packers traded back from 15 to 18 with the Lions, allowing Detroit to take Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. Meanwhile, the Packers picked up another second-round pick while still taking a pass rusher in Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness.

“This feels like a very Packers pick, right?” Brugler asked. “Lukas Van Ness was not even a starter for the Hawkeyes and might not have the most impressive collegiate resume. With his explosive power and upside, though, the Iowa product has the toolsy profile that Green Bay covets on the defensive line.”

With the Packers also having two picks in the second round, Brugler helped Green Bay address the offense by having them take Wake Forest wide receiver A.T. Perry and Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid.

Why Do the Packers Need a Pass Rusher?

The Packers went up against some difficult opponents in 2022 who were able to get after Aaron Rodgers thanks to a deep group of pass rushers on their roster. For Green Bay, the franchise is in desperate need of some depth on the edge.

Star pass rusher Rashan Gary was on pace for a career year in 2022, but a torn ACL in early November agains the Detroit Lions has put his status for the 2023 opener in jeopardy. Gary is still only 25 years old, and should be able to come back to play at a high level, but the team had few answers without him at the end of this season.

That leaves the team with an established veteran in Preston Smith and few options behind him. Rookie JJ Enagbare showed some flashes at times with three sacks, but he may not have the athleticism to be an every-down playmaker at the position.

Others like Jonathan Garvin and Justin Hollins aren’t guaranteed to be on Green Bay’s roster next season. Adding more pass rushers will be a huge priority this offseason, and even if the Packers draft Van Ness, it’s likely he won’t be the only addition at the position.

Who Is Lukas Van Ness?

There are other pass-rushing prospects in the 2023 draft class with more playing time, production, and prestige. However, Lukas Van Ness provides one of the more interesting profiles of the potential first-round players.

Van Ness has never been a starter for the Hawkeyes, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a productive pass rusher for the program. In just two seasons, he was able to rack up 13.5 sacks and 69 total tackles for Iowa.

At 6’5″ and 269 pounds, Van Ness brings plenty of twitch and explosiveness inside of a thickly-built frame. There will be questions about how he could handle a bigger workload at the NFL level, but he’s shown that he can at least generate pressure in limited reps against some imposing offensive linemen in the Big Ten.

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