Yahoo Sports' top 2020 NFL draft prospects, No. 33: Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos

Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports
Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports

33. Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos

6-foot-5, 266 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.99 — starter potential

TL;DR scouting report: Well-built, high-motor, productive rush talent who might not ever be a dominant NFL end

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (top 150 nationally), Gross-Matos turned down offers from schools such as Clemson and Alabama to sign with the Nittany Lions. He played in 13 games as a true freshman in 2017, mostly as a pass-rush specialist, making 17 tackles (two for loss) and 1.5 sacks.

In 2018, Gross-Matos was named third-team All-Big Ten and earned Penn State's Defensive Lineman of the Year award, making 54 tackles (20 for loss), eight sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 games. As a junior, Gross-Matos had 40 tackles (15 for loss) and 9.5 sacks and was named first-team all-conference.

Gross-Matos, who turned 22 in February, declared early for the 2020 NFL draft and attended the scouting combine. There he participated in the positional drills, bench press (20 reps), vertical jump (34 inches) and broad jump (120 inches).

Upside: Ideal frame for an edge defender — has the mass and reach to handle work inside and out. Extremely long wingspan (82 1/4 inches). Thick, side and strong base. Frame not yet maxed out suggesting he still has room to grow. Good explosive athleticism.

Really nice get-off as he times up snaps well and bursts off the line. Flexibility to bend around the edge. Transitions quickly on his countermoves. Nice change-of-direction ability to pivot in a jiffy. Tough to cut block, athletic enough to simply jump over or past it. Can accelerate through contact and keep on his rush trajectory. Opened eyes with smooth, fluid effort in the “hoop” drill at the combine — dipped and bent with ease.

Smells blood and finishes well when bearing down on the QB. Effective on twists and stunts. Watch Gross-Matos wrap all the way around, pinball off the guard and finish the sack against Purdue:

Watch Gross-Matos wrap all the way around and get the sack.
Watch Gross-Matos wrap all the way around and get the sack.

Worked at PSU with noted DL coach Sean Spencer, who left Penn State for the New York Giants in January, and also has spent time on his own with DL guru Sudan Ellington. Has some nice rush moves he’s developed — a really strong rip, an inside club and a stab-club. Works underneath blockers well and exposes their leverage weaknesses. Can work the outside arm of a tackle and then whip back underneath.

Surprisingly effective as interior rusher. Rips underneath slower guards and works creases for disruption. Can handle duties anywhere from a pass-rushing 3-technique to a 7-technique. Lined up on both sides of the line and kicked inside — even took snaps at nose tackle (see bowl game vs. Memphis).

High-motor rusher. Plays through the whistle. Earns sacks and tackles for loss on second effort. Showed up in big games — showcase performance vs. Ohio State (two sacks, nine tackles, 3.5 TFLs).

Downside: Doesn’t always maximize his gifts — still learning how to consistently overpower blockers. More of a finesse player for his size. Strength doesn’t always translate — doesn’t shock with his hands. Gives up inside hand position and gets stalemated.

Run fits are inconsistent. Makes a lot of backside plays but doesn’t keep contain consistently. Must improve at setting a harder edge and shedding blocks better. Watch as Minnesota OT Sam Schlueter is able to reach him and doesn’t even need the tight end’s help to crumple Gross-Matos on the end-around run:

Gross-Matos can't fight through the tackle's reach block.
Gross-Matos can't fight through the tackle's reach block.

Streaky — sacks tended to come in bunches and could go stretches without much production or disruption. Far more natural and effective rushing from the right side — spent the majority of his time on that side and didn't appear as impactful from the left edge.

Will be too herky-jerky as a rusher — arms and legs flying everywhere. Appears to try to oversell holding calls against him that aren’t always there. Looks annoyed at facing double teams at times. Gets too high in his attack and will be stood up. Rush plan appears predetermined — will be 101-level curriculum for seasoned NFL blockers.

Missed tackles came in bunches down the stretch last season. Has battled immaturity and accountability issues at time, resulting in some minor discipline at Penn State. He’s only a true junior, but Gross-Matos is old for his class.

Best-suited destination: At Penn State, Gross-Matos most often lined up in a four-point stance as right end (also left end) in a four-man front, occasionally kicking inside on passing downs. He should have a similar role in the NFL, but he also could be tried as a stand-up rusher in a 3-4 system.

Among the teams that could be interested in his services include the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals.

Did you know: Tragedy struck Gross-Matos more than once. His father, Michael Gross, died in a boating accident while saving Gross-Matos from drowning when he was 2. And his older brother, Chelal, was hit by lightning during a baseball game and died when Gross-Matos was 11 and Chelal was 12.

The remainder of the family — mother, Skinah; stepfather, Robert Matos; brother, Robby; and sisters, Qeturah and Cristina — have bonded together as best they can since. Gross-Matos opened up about his two major personal losses at the combine, explaining how the experiences changed him.

“[NFL teams] just asked me about what’s the hardest thing I ever went through,” he said. “Obviously for me, that was losing my older brother at a young age — and my dad. Just dealing with that. I want to do something better for my family and my mother and that’s kind of how I approached it. That’s the reality of it.”

They said it: “It’s not a great class for pass rushers overall. [Gross-Matos] has a chance to be pretty good. But I don’t think he’ll ever be a great edge setter, great against the run.”

— AFC senior college scout

Player comp: Ziggy Ansah

Expected draft range: Top-40 pick.

Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz | 40. S Kyle Dugger | 39. EDGE Terrell Lewis | 38. WR Laviska Shenault Jr. | 37. S Grant Delpit | 36. Jonathan Taylor | 35. WR Brandon Aiyuk | 34. EDGE Zack Baun | 33. EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos | 32. CB Jeff Gladney | 31. QB Jordan Love | 30. CB Trevon Diggs | 29. EDGE A.J. Epenesa | 28. RB JK Dobbins | 27. WR Justin Jefferson | 26. WR Tee Higgins | 25. S Xavier McKinney | 24. WR Jalen Reagor | 23. CB Kristian Fulton | 22. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire | 21. WR Denzel Mims | 20. LB Kenneth Murray | 19. RB D’Andre Swift | 18. QB Justin Herbert | 17. LB Patrick Queen | 16. WR Henry Ruggs III | 15. EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson | 14. WR Jerry Jeudy | 13. OT Mekhi Becton | 12. DT Javon Kinlaw | 11. OT Andrew Thomas | 10. OT Tristan Wirfs | 9. WR CeeDee Lamb | 8. OT Jedrick Wills Jr. | 7. CB CJ Henderson | 6. LB-S Isaiah Simmons | 5. DT Derrick Brown | 4. QB Tua Tagovailoa | 3. CB Jeffrey Okudah | 2. QB Joe Burrow | 1. Chase Young

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