By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers addressed one of their major positional needs by selecting Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness with the 13th overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.
Green Bay began the week with the No. 15 overall pick in the draft, but they moved up two spots as part of the blockbuster trade that sent four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets.
That trade also brought the Packers a second-round selection (No. 42 overall) and sixth-round pick in this year’s draft, plus a conditional 2024 second-round pick that could become a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of the Jets’ snaps this season. The Packers are sending a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft to the Jets.
Green Bay’s lack of pass-rushing depth became apparent after Rashan Gary tore his anterior cruciate ligament last November. Gary had six sacks in nine games, Preston Smith had a team-high 8 ½ sacks and nobody else had more than four last season.
Van Ness wasn’t a starter for Iowa last season, but he still had 11 tackles for loss and 6 ½ sacks. The former high school hockey player earned the nickname “Hercules” for his strength and showed plenty of versatility at Iowa by lining up at both tackle and end.
This marks just the second time in the last 14 drafts that the Packers have selected among the top 15 overall picks. The Packers drafted Gary 12th overall in 2019.
After going 8-9 and missing the playoffs last season to end a string of three straight playoff appearances, the Packers are entering a new post-Rodgers era with 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love as their starting quarterback.
The Packers have three of the top 45 overall selections in the draft, giving them plenty of opportunities to boost a roster that has more holes than usual since salary-cap issues prevented them from being very active on the free-agent market. ___
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