NFL Draft grades Round 1: What experts are saying about Packers pick

Colorado State v Iowa
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How are NFL draft experts reacting to the Green Bay Packers picking Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness in the first round?

Death, taxes, and the Green Bay Packers going defense in the first round.

Many are disappointed the Packers again refused to acknowledge the offensive side of the ball in Round 1, but it's hard to argue with their strategy of drafting elite athletes at premium positions. The first round is all about value, and the Packers achieved that on Thursday evening.

Not only is edge rusher a premium position worth adding to each year, it was also among the Packers' most significant areas of need. Green Bay found an excellent prospect with outstanding athleticism at a premium position, while also checking off a need on the to-do list.

If history shows us anything, it's that nobody knows which picks will turn out to be good ones. The Packers may be in the process of building a legendary draft class, or maybe it's one that costs Brian Gutekunst his job. Nobody knows.

However, it's still fun to assess how the new players fit in their new teams. Following Round 1, let's take a look at NFL draft grades for the Packers.

NFL Draft grades Round 1: Experts react to Packers picking Lukas Van Ness

Overall, the Packers' first-round choice has been well-received. Lukas Van Ness was viewed as one of the best defensive prospects in the class before the draft. He also plays at one of the most important positions in football, so it's no surprise the Packers had interest.

Where the frustration came from fans was less about Van Ness' talent and potential, but rather the fact Green Bay didn't take an offensive player like Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba. While understandable, Van Ness can be a home-run pick for the Packers.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has a good track record of drafting players at premium positions in the first round, having previously selected Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, and Eric Stokes. Hopefully, Van Ness will be the next excellent pass rusher in Green Bay.

Here's how draft experts have graded the pick: grade: A

Draft analysts are drawing comparisons between Lukas Van Ness and Rashan Gary, and it's easy to see why. Both players lacked dominant production at college, but were phenomenal athletes with all the tools to become world-class edge defenders in the NFL.

It worked for Gary, and's Chad Reuter praised the pick.'s Chad Reuter writes:

"Van Ness' athletic profile is similar to that of Packers edge rusher Rashan Gary, with both players featuring outstanding agility. Van Ness also has the length and functional strength to play 5 technique, as well, which is a position of need for the team. I like the value here in a young player with excellent upside."

Yahoo Sports grade: B+

Charles McDonald of Yahoo Sports also gave the Packers a high grade for the pick. McDonald notes that while Van Ness needs development, he can end up a great pick for Green Bay.

McDonald writes:

"Van Ness is a solid, do-it-all defensive lineman who has room to grow and a high floor. Van Ness needs development before he can be a consistent Pro Bowl-level starter, but guys with his athleticism almost never fail. His presence gives the Packers some flexibility with Preston Smith moving forward as well."

CBS Sports grade: B-

While Pete Prisco of CBS Sports gave the Packers a solid grade for the pick, he does note that Van Ness didn't reach his potential at Iowa. Green Bay has made similar moves in the past, banking on a player's upside with the right coaching rather than going off their college production.

Prisco writes:

"This is a player with a lot of potential, but he didn't play up to it at Iowa. He's an effort player who has the tools to get better on the next level. Some think he will be like J.J. Watt from that standpoint, better in the NFL. Time will tell."

Pro Football Focus grade: Average

A little harsh, no? Despite giving it an 'Average' grade, they actually gave some encouraging analysis on the selection, writing about Van Ness' power and versatility. With his ability to play inside, he should have a full-time role in Joe Barry's defense right away.

PFF writes:

"He uses his power to cave in opposing pass protections and likely comes with the versatility of being able to kick inside at times."

Green Bay enters Day 2 with several picks remaining, including two in the second round and one in the third. Will Brian Gutekunst finally shift the focus to offense and get Jordan Love some more pass-catchers to throw the ball to?

It's a good job the Packers got their pass rusher early, as many of the top prospects are now off the board. There are, however, still many talented tight ends and wide receivers remaining on Day 2.

Next. 10 best players available Packers should target on Day 2. dark