Bay Port’s Van Lanen looking to get drafted
By Greg Bates
SUAMICO – Since 2011, there have been 11 University of Wisconsin offensive linemen drafted in the NFL.
Cole Van Lanen is hoping he’s next in line to hear his name called and make his mark at the highest level.
The 2016 Bay Port graduate is coming off a solid career with the Badgers.
He played in 45 games, earning 19 starts as a staple at left tackle.
Because Van Lanen is a Wisconsin product, he said NFL coaches and scouts know they’ll get a hard-nosed guy who will work diligently every day.
“Part of that tradition is the way we’re coached at Wisconsin,” Van Lanen said. “We’re coached hard. Our knowledge level and our technique are on-point. They know that’s what they’re going to get with a guy coming out of Wisconsin. (Associate head coach and offensive coordinator Joe) Rudolph is a hell of a coach, and I’ve learned lots from him. I’m excited wherever I go – hopefully, they know what they’re going to get.”
Van Lanen played both left and right tackle at Bay Port.
After his college career ended in December, Van Lanen has been training to learn every position on the offensive line.
He said it’s been an easy transition to guard.
“I’ve been working on that, and I feel comfortable playing either left or right, inside or out,” said Van Lanen, who in 2018 was ranked the top offensive lineman in the country by Pro Football Focus. “I’ve also been trying to learn center. I want to be that guy who can play all five spots, so that’s what I’ve been practicing. I feel comfortable at guard or tackle on both sides.”
Showing versatility could be invaluable in the NFL.
If one of Van Lanen’s future lineman teammates happened to get hurt, he said he could slide to any position.
“You get to travel like eight linemen, so to have guys who can play all the positions is a good thing,” he said. “You don’t want guys who can only play one spot unless they’re a full-time starter.”
Van Lanen participated in the Badgers’ Pro Day March 10 and showed scouts from 30 NFL teams what he’s about.
“It went well,” Van Lanen said. “I PR-ed in lots of things. There were things I could have done better, but overall, I was happy with it – especially with there being no combine. I wanted an opportunity to show what I had, and I did that.”
At 6-foot-5, 312 pounds, Van Lanen proved he’s athletic, powerful and quick.
His most impressive display at pro day was perhaps in the 40-yard dash, which he ran in a blazing – in terms of offensive linemen – 5.01 seconds.
At the last NFL Combine in 2019, only four offensive linemen ran sub-5.00 times.
With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, there won’t be a combine this season – Van Lanen did receive an invitation – and in-person interviews are rare.
However, at the Badgers’ Pro Day, Van Lanen was able to talk to several coaches and scouts.
He isn’t talking about specific teams he met with, and it’s up in the air which team might end up drafting him.
“I’ve been getting good feedback from most of the teams I’ve talked to,” Van Lanen said. “The biggest feedback from guys that have gone through this is to expect to go to the team you’ve talked to the least because that’s generally what happens.”
Training with fellow Badgers
Before competing in pro day, Van Lanen was in Dallas working with trainer Duke Manyweather and getting reps with his former Badgers teammate Tyler Biadasz.
The center from Amherst was a fourth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2020.
Los Angeles Rams guard David Edwards, another of Van Lanen’s teammates, took part in workouts, too.
“I picked their brains about the process and what it’s like being at the next level,” Van Lanen said. “It’s been good feedback. It’s valuable input when you’re talking to people who have been through it. You hone in on the things they say and execute them along the way.”
Van Lanen trained in Verona at Sports AdvantEdge with former Badgers’ strength and conditioning coach Brian Bott.
Rams tackle Rob Havenstein also was working out at the facility.
Havenstein had a stellar career at Wisconsin and is in his sixth season in the NFL.
Van Lanen was able to work on blocking techniques and moves with Havenstein.
“I’ll line up, and he’ll show me how he sets and why he does things,” Van Lanen said. “Then I’ll do stuff, and he’ll point out what I’m doing and what I can fix. It was good. To get more than a month of work with him was good for me. Training with him, he pushed me, and it was fun working with him.”
Because Wisconsin has always had a run-first mentality with its program, Badgers linemen get lots of game reps on run blocking.
So, Van Lanen worked on his pass protection to shore up that part of his game.
“I was training with Manyweather, and that was something we were honing in on,” Van Lanen said. “That helped drastically. We worked moving me inside, and I excelled at that, too.”
At the Badgers’ Pro Day, Van Lanen was able to show some of his improved footwork to the scouts.
He’s also been working on pad level, hand placement, hip flexibility and punch timing.
The NFL Draft is April 29-May 1.
Van Lanen has been projected as a Day 3 selection in the fifth round.
He said he isn’t worried about where he’ll end up.
“I’m mentally prepared to go all the way in the draft to undrafted,” Van Lanen said. “No matter what, if I’m drafted or not, I know what I’m going to do when I get somewhere. I’m excited for an opportunity to step on the field and show what I have. I know in the long run, I’ll be in a good situation.”
An NFL guru, Van Lanen said he plans to watch all three days of the draft in Green Bay with his family.
“I’ve watched the draft my whole life,” he said. “It’s something I never thought would be an opportunity for me. As my career kept growing and now it’s time, it’s a blessing and a dream becoming reality. I’m excited to go through this process.”
Editor’s note: Alec Ingold, another Bay Port graduate and a former UW-Madison player, plays in the NFL for the Las Vegas Raiders.