GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers selected University of Wisconsin offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen with the first of their sixth-round picks.
Getting the phone call will be an unforgettable moment for the native of the Green Bay native of Suamico.
“The calls that I was getting, this one came up as ‘scam likely’ on my phone,” Van Lanen said. “I saw it was a Green Bay number and I answered it and I wasn’t even expecting it to be (GM Brian) Gutekunst and (coach) Matt LaFleur. I just couldn’t believe it. They said, ‘How would you love to be a Packer?’ and I was just absolutely stoked.”
There’s no doubt Van Lanen will be able to find the stadium. He graduated from Bay Port High School, which is no more than a 15-minute drive to Lambeau Field. He said he's "fair share" share of games at Lambeau.
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Van Lanen was the Badgers’ starting left tackle for his final two seasons and a first-team all-Big Ten pick as a senior.
“I really want to be that versatile guy that can play all positions,” Van Lanen said after UW’s Pro Day. “I feel like I can and I'm really confident at it. Something I’ve worked a ton at after season, moving inside, I worked a lot of center and guard. So, yeah, I feel like I'm confident in those positions and I can excel in those positions. And this is kind of what I'm going to continue working on.”
Van Lanen has been training at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in Texas and learning the finer points of the game from O-line guru Duke Manyweather.
He is the latest product from the UW Offensive Line Factory.
"Does it help coming from Wisconsin?" he asked at pro day. "I'm sure it does with the productivity the O-linemen have had coming out of this university. But, ultimately, it comes down to everything that I've put on tape and everything that I've done."
At pro day, he measured 6-foot-4 1/4 and 305 pounds. With 33 5/8-inch arms, he put up 22 reps on the bench press, ran a 5.07 in the 40 and 4.64 in the shuttle. When his Relative Athletic Score is computed with the guards, he’s No. 6 in the class. With the tackles, he's still an impressive 18th.
According to Sports Info Solutions, runs to his gap averaged 2.9 yards per carry. He was guilty of two holds. PFF charged him with one sack and three hurries in 181 pass-protecting snaps, a pressure rate of only 1.7 percent. That was a huge improvement over five sacks and 4.3 percent in 2019.
Now comes the next challenge of playing in his hometown.
“I wouldn't say extra pressure,” he said of joining the Packers. “Obviously I'm beyond excited, but I mean going into this, this was a day of my life I'll never forget, but this was just the start and that was the way I was looking at it. If one of 32 teams picked me it's back working and getting better and being able to play this fall and making any team that picked me better and, fortunately, it's the Packers. I'm just really excited to help this team win and earn a spot on this team so that's kinda where I'm at now. I'm super-, super-excited, but that's the kind of mentality I had for whoever drafted me. Yeah, it's the Packers but it doesn't change that.”
In the last two drafts, the Packers have selected a staggering six offensive linemen.
Draft Bible says: Boasting a prototypical well-proportioned frame, Van Lanen certainly looks the part of a future NFL offensive lineman. He is a smooth athlete who shows adequate foot quickness in pass protection and working to the second level laterally in the run game. This allows him to stay patient with a compact and stable base. Van Lanen has a powerful lower half, showing the ability to create some movement early on in reps. His power can be compromised with less than ideal pad level. It can make Van Lanen’s balance inconsistent, leading to far too many reps on the ground. Van Lanen doesn’t do exceptionally well working in space. He does his best work playing in tight quarters, bringing to question a potential move inside at the next level.