What was the key cog in the Titans’ run to the AFC Championship and the 49ers’ run to the Super Bowl?
A dominant running game.
Coincidentally, there is an edge defender in the 2020 NFL Draft class that excels in stopping the running game altogether while also having some impressive physical traits to build on.
That prospect is Yetur Gross-Matos from Penn State University.
— Barstool Penn State (@PSUBarstool) August 6, 2019
His abilities can be a very useful tool in a team’s toolbox. Gross-Matos’ talent doesn’t stop in his defense against the run, either.
He accumulated 9.5 sacks in his 2019 campaign, including 2 against a stellar Ohio State offensive line with multiple draft prospects along it.
His impressive quickness and ridiculous length allows him to penetrate gaps extremely well, no matter the size of the offensive lineman he is up against. People cannot question Gross-Matos’ competitiveness. His effort shines through on every single play.
Yetur Gross-Matos has the length, athleticism, and powerful upper body that oozes the potential to become a top-tier pass rusher. pic.twitter.com/co0GOiGEh2
— Titans Tape (@TitansTape) February 22, 2020
Gross-Matos’, as a tackler, is best described as a mauler. His nearly-35 inch arms (92nd percentile in the draft class for edge defenders according to mockdraftable.com) allow him to make up sizable distances between himself and any ball carrier.
Speaking of his combine numbers, he also reigns very impressive jumps, a 34” vertical and a 120” broad. These point to the power in his lower body that allows him to bend around offensive tackles as well as tight ends. He performed well in the agility testing, and it certainly shows in his film.
.@PennStateFball DE Yetur Gross-Matos 💪
— NFL (@NFL) February 29, 2020
Gross Matos’ ceiling has not been reached yet, as he still needs to develop some counters in the pass rush. He also can become more polished on the mental side of play-processing. His explosive plays are eye-popping, but there are a few plays in most of his games where he ends up in the backfield when the play has already developed downfield.
A talented defensive coaching staff, including head coach Mike Vrabel, can be an ideal landing spot for Gross-Matos.
Off the field, Gross-Matos was one of the most beloved and respected players around the country during his time at Penn State. He was a fan favorite due to his relentless mentality and high character both on and off the field. Also, he also became a leader in the locker room, and his coaches noticed.
Sean Spencer on Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos leadership: “Yetur is a quiet leader. He’s not going to say a whole bunch. He’s such a go-hard guy on the field that he leads by example. His approach is full-speed go all the time.” #GiantsPride #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/4fKrwEEUyl
— WBG84 (@WBG84) January 31, 2020
Adding a player of Gross Matos’ talent late in the first round could pay off immensely in the long run for the Titans or any team that scoops him up. For Tennessee, he could be a nightmare for players like Deshaun Watson and Leonard Fournette for years to come.
Featured Image: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.