Chicago Bears 2021 NFL Draft Profile: Cole Van Lanen
Cole Van Lanen has been a longtime starter for the Wisconsin Badgers. He enters the 2021 NFL draft after five years and 45 games. He spent the past two and a half years as a full-time starter at left tackle. However, does have experience inside and outside. Wisconsin is known for their offensive line prospects, but this experienced left tackle seems to be flying under the radar.
Is Cole Van Lanen a potential day three steal for the Chicago Bears?
Strengths that Cole Van Lanen has that can translate to the NFL
Cole Van Lanen is going to find a job in the NFL because of his run blocking ability. He knows how to get downhill and attack in the ground game. His best traits come from his aggressiveness, but his understanding of angles and hip fluidity.
Take a look at the clip in this play. This is an excellent reach block as he is able to turn his hips and create a seal. This type of technique is advanced for players his size. While he has typically spent time at Wisconsin, his power, and downhill run blocking ability makes him more translatable to guard than most tackle prospects.
Weaknesses that Cole Van Lanen may struggle in the NFL
The biggest reason that Van Lanen is likely to transfer to guard in the NFL is that he does not have the length. He is going to struggle with bigger pass rushers who are able to get into his body and out-length him.
Van Lanen is also a bit slow in his initial backpedal as well as his foot redirection. Because of this, he is going to struggle with quick rushers who use inside counters and beat him off of the ball.
When playing guard, he will not have to worry about the speed beating him and turning the corner on him. Van Lanen is much better moving downhill than he is moving backward and maybe scheme specific to a power running game as well.
NFL Comparison for Cole Van Lanen
Cole Van Lanen was able to get measured and do his physical testing at the Wisconsin pro day. While he did not do the 3-cone, and short shuttle, which would help us see his foot quickness and change of direction, we did get most his attributes below.
Using his physical and athletic testing we can get a list of potential comparables with similar sizes and abilities.
It is a long list of names, but looking at some of the best on the field comparisons would be Jon Runyan Jr. and Tom Compton.
Bears fans should know both, as Runyan is now with the Green Bay Packers after a career at Michigan. Runyan played tackle at Michigan but moved inside to guard in the NFL. Compton has bounced inside and outside and has made a career as a long-term swing tackle.
Tom Compton is familiar for Chicago Bears fans as he was a swing tackle for the team in 2017. These two do not flash but are reliable run blockers who are a bit limited overall and are best off inside as guards. That is the type of player you are looking at with Cole Van Lanen.
Does Cole Van Lanen fit Chicago Bears?
The Chicago Bears need depth on the offensive line. Whether it be tackle or guard, they need a little bit of both, and the versatility could really help. Beyond that, they need to find toughness in the ground game. Cole Van Lanen brings them what they need on day three.
Cole Van Lanen should go to a power running team. Matt Nagy ran zone often but adjusted to more power towards the end of 2020. Adding a player like Cole Van Lanen would show that they are looking to get tough and add depth to a power running game.
Cole Van Lanen is limited, and will most likely slot into the NFL as a swing tackle. Still, the Bears could see Jason Spriggs go and replace him with a late-round pick from Wisconsin.