In a two-round 2021 NFL mock draft from Pro Football Network, Wisconsin Football’s Cole Van Lanen is selected.
College Football players have just started returning to campus but mock drafts for the 2021 NFL draft have already been released. And in a two-round mock from Pro Football Network, they have Wisconsin Football’s Cole Van Lanen heading to Seattle with the 56th overall selection.
From a fit standpoint, this is a great landing spot for Van Lanen – although I’m sure us Green Bay Packers’ fans would like to see him elsewhere – as Seattle is a team that loves to run the football and they are lacking depth at the tackle position heading into this season.
With the 2020 season still ahead of him, Van Lanen is already a very experienced player having appeared in 40 games over his career, including 14 starts. 2016 was a red-shirt season for Van Lanen and in 2017 he played special teams while filling in here and there.
But in 2018, he saw much more playing time as he shared left tackle duties with Jon Dietzen where he performed quite well. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus’ grading system, Van Lanen had a run-blocking grade of 90.0 and an overall grade of 90.8. He was also No. 28 on PFF’s top-50 college players entering the 2019 season.
However this past season as a full-time starter, Van Lanen didn’t see the same level of success that he did in 2018. But it’s also worth pointing out that he fought through injuries for much of the season and he still enters the 2020 season as PFF’s fourth-best returning offensive lineman.
Van Lanen is experienced, he’s excellent against the run, and he’s shown that he has the athleticism to work in space. For a closer look at his game, here is a peek at some pros and cons from Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network:
“Pros: Van Lanen is an absolute load coming off the snap. He’s got natural power for days thanks to his foot drive and mass, once he’s able to create any level of forward push, he’s consistent in his efforts to continue to balloon the point of attack.
He’s going to be a natural in the run game at the next level — I like his general mobility, he’s not the most graceful but generally speaking he’s effective in space to get the job done.”
“Cons: He’s much more nimble when he’s working forward versus when he’s tasked with taking vertical sets. He’ll overextend himself a bit on quick sets open the door for defenders to force a missed punch and catch him leaning.
There’s some visible stiffness in his hips, he’s got to really fight and scrap with the inside hand to prevent getting taken on inside counters when he’s working on an island against speedy rushers off the edge.”
Van Lanen could have entered the 2020 NFL draft but chose to return and now as a red-shirt senior on an offensive line that lost Tyler Biadasz, Jason Erdmann, and David Moorman, he is going to be the leader of this unit for the Badgers.
With a solid season, Van Lanen could easily find himself as a top-100 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but if he is able to return to his 2018 form, then he is a player who could start flying up draft boards and be considered one of the top tackles in this year’s class.