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IOWA CITY — Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness will forgo his remaining eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft, he said Tuesday on social media.
Van Ness, a redshirt sophomore, is a projected to be one of the top defensive linemen in the 2023 draft class.
ESPN’s Todd McShay projected Van Ness last month to be taken 20th by the Dallas Cowboys. McShay and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. both ranked Van Ness as the third-best defensive end in the class.
After redshirting in 2020, Van Ness was a key part of Iowa’s defensive line in 2021 and 2022 despite technically having a second-team role on the depth chart.
He was tied for the team lead in sacks in 2021 with seven and was second on the team with six sacks in 2022 behind Deontae Craig.
Van Ness led the team in tackles for loss in 2022 with 10.5.
“My time at Iowa has been very special, and I will always be a Hawkeye,” Van Ness said on Twitter. “It was not an easy decision to leave the University of Iowa with remaining eligibility. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to play in the NFL.”
Iowa’s defensive line is expected to have plenty of depth despite the loss of Van Ness.
Craig, who had 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss as a second-team defensive end, highlights the list of Iowa defensive linemen who are in good positions to take on a larger roles.
Aaron Graves also could see a larger role. He recorded 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2022 despite taking less than half as many snaps as Iowa’s top five defensive linemen.