2020 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Yetur Gross-Matos
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: There was a trio of sophomore Big Ten defensive ends who had huge 2018 seasons, and Gross-Matos was right there with Ohio State's Chase Young and Iowa's A.J. Epenesa as a force for Penn State. Gross-Matos showed more as a run defender than Epenesa or Young, totaling 54 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss on the year. While Epenesa and Young got to the quarterback more, Gross-Matos still put heat on the quarterback with eight sacks and two forced fumbles.
In 2019, Gross-Matos recorded 40 tackles with 9.5 sacks. He was a good run defender and demonstrated improvement as a pass-rusher over his sophomore year. However, Penn State hurt Gross-Matos' sack production in 2019 by playing him out of position at nose tackle, at five-technique, and in containment.
There is a lot to like about Gross-Matos' skill set translating to the NFL. He has excellent length and plays with very good leverage that he uses to get off blocks. Gross-Matos sets a physical edge and has the ability to take on blocks and contain plays from getting to the perimeter. While there are occasional plays when he can get pushed back, overall Gross-Matos has some natural strength, and that can be seen with his ability to fight through blockers. He also is a good athlete with closing speed.
As a run defender, Gross-Matos has a real presence, usingg his length to stand up blockers and then his strength to shed them. With speed, he flows quickly to the ball and gets in on tackles. Gross-Matos shows more desire and "want to" than many college edge defenders who seem more consumed with rushing the quarterback. Gross-Matos is dangerous to fight off blocks and fire into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss, a consistent sight during the 2018 season. As stated above, Gross-Matos can get pushed back on occasion, and he could stand to strengthen his base while also playing with good leverage. He can get into trouble when he stands up too high, but overall, his run defense in 2018 was very impressive for a sophomore and first-year starter.
Gross-Matos is dangerous pass-rusher. He has nice club move, using his strength to knock tackles off balance. Once he has them on their heels, he uses a burst to fire by blockers and shows real quickness to close on the quarterback. With his active hands and quality technique, Gross-Matos shows a nice ability to use his hands and feet at the same time. While Gross-Matos is not blindingly fast off the edge, he has enough quickness to give tackles problems with speed.
In the 2020 NFL Draft, team sources say Gross-Matos could go anywhere from the back half of the first round to early in the second round.
Player Comparison: Preston Smith. In some ways, Gross-Matos reminds me of Smith coming out of Mississippi State. Smith (6-5, 265) and Gross-Matos are almost identical in size. Both players were well-rounded defenders, but were not blinding fast or overpowering. I could see Gross-Matos turning into a good edge defender like Smith has for the Packers and Redskins.
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