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Top Edge Rushers in NFL Draft: Yetur Gross-Matos

Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, who almost died as a young boy, ranks No. 3 among this year’s edge-rushing prospects.
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Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, who almost died as a young boy, ranks No. 3 among this year’s edge-rushing prospects.

Yetur Gross-Matos’ story is one of tragedy over triumph.

When he was 2, he fell out of a boat. His father jumped into the water to save the youngster’s life – only to lose his own in the process.

When he was 11, his 12-year-old brother, Chelal, was struck by lightning on a baseball field and died.

“They just asked me about what’s the hardest thing I ever went through,” Gross-Matos said of conversations with teams at the Scouting Combine. “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.”

That something better will come in about a week when he’s drafted – perhaps in the first round.

Gross-Matos was first-team all-Big Ten with 9.5 sacks and 15 tackles for losses in 2019. That was a good season but not quite as good as his sophomore campaign, when he had eight sacks, 20 tackles for losses, 54 total tackles and the only two forced fumbles of his career. In three seasons, he had 18.5 sacks and 36.5 TFLs.

After so much tragedy, triumph awaits.

“It will be incredible. It’s already been incredible,” Gross-Matos said. “Even just making it to college. I had a great three years there at Penn State. It was everything I thought it would. Just to see how my life has turned out, and my career, it’s something not everyone dreams of. I feel extremely blessed and fortunate to be in this situation, as well as my family.”

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What we like

Gross-Matos is big (6-5, 266) and long (34 7/8-inch arms). He uses all of that to his advantage in attacking the quarterback and stopping the run. According to Sports Info Solutions, runs at him had only a 29 percent success rate, one of the best in the draft. He’s more than just a power player, though. He has excellent athleticism off the ball and a nice toolbox of pass-rushing moves. Penn State used him as an interior rusher at times with success.

What we don’t like

There are no glaring weaknesses. He needs to use his tools more often in getting after the quarterback. His pressure rate of 12 percent is below average. He was always good but rarely dominant. While LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson looks comfortable in reverse, that’s not Gross-Matos’ forte. He missed seven tackles (15 percent). Like most prospects, he needs to add strength, get better with his hands and add additional moves as a pass rusher.

Bill Huber’s Edge Rusher Profiles

No. 1: Ohio State’s Chase Young

No. 2: LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson

No. 3: Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos

No. 4: Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa

No. 5: Michigan’s Joe Uche

Nos 6-20: Best of the Rest