Green Bay Packers: A Look at Cole Van Lanen & What he Adds to Offense

Former Bay Port and Wisconsin star Cole Van Lanen hopes to be selected in the NFL draft this weekend.Mjs Uwgrid Uwgrid22 01002
Former Bay Port and Wisconsin star Cole Van Lanen hopes to be selected in the NFL draft this weekend.Mjs Uwgrid Uwgrid22 01002 /

One of the bigger needs that the Green Bay Packers had to address in this year’s draft was their depth at offensive tackle, which was already thin even with David Bakhtiari, but is extremely thin without. While they were unable to land one of the premier prospects in this draft, Green Bay would double-dip at the position on Day 3, taking Royce Newman in Round 4 and Cole Van Lanen out of Wisconsin in Round 6.

Van Lanen, who grew up about 15 minutes from Lambeau Field, has three years of experience as the Badgers left tackle. He burst on the scene in 2018, splitting time at the position with Jon Dietzen — who was signed by the Green Bay Packers as a UDFA — allowing two sacks and six pressures in 223 pass-blocking snaps.

While PFF’s grades are far from the be-all-end-all, when it comes to illustrating just how good a player was, they can be an effective tool. That season, Van Lanen’s overall grade of 90.8 was the highest among all tackles in college football.

Unfortunately, Van Lanen wouldn’t be able to build off of that season in 2019 as he battled injuries for much of the year–giving up five sacks and 15 pressures while being called for five penalties in 371 pass-blocking attempts. This most recent season was cut short for Wisconsin due to COVID-19, resulting in only 181 pass-blocking snaps for Van Lanen with one sack allowed and three pressures.

Given how many options that the Green Bay Packers have along the interior of the offensive line coupled with how thin their tackle group is, Van Lanen should get every attempt to stick at right tackle in the NFL. However, many draft analysts and scouts believe that he is better suited inside, and a part of Van Lanen’s offseason training included getting acclimated to both guard and center positions.

He has the athleticism of an NFL tackle, scoring a “great” 8.49 out of 10 on the Relative Athletic Scoring table, but Van Lanen weighed in at 305 pounds, which is a bit on the smaller side. Not to mention that he is in just the 14th percentile for height, standing at 6’4″, and his arm length is in the 22nd percentile while his wingspan is in the 3rd, according to Mock Draftable.

Where Van Lanen needs work is in pass protection, but he is a mauler as a run-blocker. Again, looking at PFF’s grading system, when healthy in 2018, Van Lanen was the highest-graded run-blocking tackle, and then this past season, he ranked 34th out of 200 eligible offensive tackles. Even during his “down” season of 2019, he was still considered an above-average run-blocker.

Now for a closer look at what Van Lanen can bring to the Green Bay Packers, here is a look at what a few draft analysts had to say in their pre-draft reports:

Kyle Crabbs – 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. Really enjoyable to watch him in gap/power concepts to continue pushing pace and collapsing defenders off of the football — he’s going to be a natural in the run game at the next level. His frame has enveloped defenders completely and he pairs that push and power with good tenacity as a blocker to stay sticky. 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 (—): Reach and wingspan aren’t something that flashes as a great asset of his — but it’s compounded by his foot speed in his pass sets. 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.”"

Lance Zierlein –

"“College tackle with debilitating length and a lack of athleticism in pass protection that will force a move to guard. Van Lanen is more angular and upright than wide and balanced in his play. When he’s allowed to come off the ball as a drive blocker, he shows some potential to generate push. And he already has the hand placement to help make a transition to guard a little easier. He’s made for power schemes where he can pull, locate and land to help spring the running game. The short arms and narrow power zone will make both block sustains in the run game and mirroring in pass protection a difficult task in the pros, but he has enough working for him to compete for a backup guard spot.”"

Tony Pauline – Pro Football Network

"“Positives: College left tackle who is best in a small area. Stays square, keeps his feet moving, and shows strength at the point. Correctly places his hands into opponents and steers them from the action. Stays square and out-positions defenders. Strong run blocker with the ability to turn defenders off the line.Negatives: Doesn’t sink his butt at the line of scrimmage. Heavy-footed and minimally effective blocking in motion. Lacks footwork, agility, and lateral blocking range.Analysis: Van Lanen is a strong, wide-bodied blocker with possibilities at right tackle or guard. He lacks starting potential at the next level but could be an inexpensive utility blocker.”"

Pro Football Focus ($$)

"“There was a time when it looked as if Van Lanen would follow in Ryan Ramczyk’s footsteps as the next big thing at left tackle for Wisconsin. He earned a 90.8 overall grade in limited snaps as a sophomore in 2018. When he faced better competition over the past two seasons, though, his issues were exposed. Chase Young beat him like a drum in 2019, and we never saw Van Lanen’s confidence rebound in 2020. He’s athletic and has the size of a tackle, but his build is a little slim for the position with less-than-ideal length. He’ll be kicked inside at the next level.”"