Bears Draft Target: Lukas Van Ness
Joseph Cress - USA Today Sports

Bears Draft Target: Lukas Van Ness


by - Senior Writer -

We are less than a month away from the NFL draft, and there is still a growing mystery about what this Chicago Bears team will do with the No. 9 pick. There continues to be an increasing consensus that they still could trade the No. 9 pick and move further back into the first round, but there may be better courses of action for this team to take if they want to rebuild this roster quickly.

If they decide to keep this pick, which is still a great possibility, there have been so many targets linked to Chicago that it is hard to decipher what direction the team wants to go. From the offensive line to the defensive side of the ball, Chicago has been linked to virtually every player that could fall in the 8-15 range in the draft, as they have needs that need to be filled.

One of those needs is on the defensive side of the ball, and it needs to be discussed more. Defensive line help is needed for Chicago, so Jalen Carter was a legitimate target and still is for this team. However, getting pressure on the QB is also a need that the Bears must address, so they may target an EDGE rusher at pick nine, even if it is a bit of a reach.

If that is the case, look for former Iowa EDGE rusher Luke Van Ness as a real possibility. Of all the first-round options for the Bears, this one comes as the biggest surprise target, mainly because he didn't even start for Iowa last season. Don't let that downplay his talent, however, as he is a very talented player who will make an impact on a roster this season.

When you rank dead last in QB pressures and sacks from a season ago, it is no secret that the Bears need to address the pass-rushing side of things and figure out how to get more pressure on the QB. Some of their free-agent acquisitions will help with that, but if you are not getting pressure from your defensive line also, it puts the rest of your defense in a bind.

Not a pick that most people would target here (maybe later in the draft), Van Ness is the type of disruptive defender that will not only get after the QB, but one that you can build your defense around for years. This is a guy that has always specialized in getting after the QB, which the Bears need, but he has become an impressive asset when it comes to assisting in the run.

Stopping the run was another issue for the Bears last season, as they ranked dead last in YPC at 4.9 per rush. Looking back at this past season, Van Ness had no trouble getting after the QB, as he finished with 48 QB pressures. That equals roughly four per game, as he kept the opposing QBs heads on a swivel.

Along with that, you have a guy that tallied an 80.9 grade against the run, which ranked in the top 25% in the country. Both those numbers are what you look for in a defensive end, and Van Ness can give them to you. At 6-5 and 246 pounds, Van Ness is undersized, and that is something that the Bears are hoping can change at the next level should they draft him.

He makes up for what he lacks in size with overall skill, as he tallied 13 sacks the past two seasons, along with 19 tackles for a loss and 70 total tackles. Throw in one pass defended, and you can see how much of a menace he was on the line. Ideally, you would like to see a little more production from a player you are targeting, but at least he was consistent, which is all you can ask for. Van Ness also grew up a Bears fan, so playing for the team he grew up rooting for could be a dream come true for him.

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