It’s no secret in the NFL that if you want to win you must be dominant in the trenches. The Dallas Cowboys have been fully devoted to that philosophy this offseason with the additions they made on the defensive line. Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe give the Cowboys much-needed interior defensive line help, which has been a weak spot for a while. Also, former first-round pick Aldon Smith was signed to a one-year deal earlier this month for some added insurance coming off the edge, pending reinstatement by the league.
Randy Gregory, who’s also waiting for reinstatement, could provide another presence rushing from the perimeter, however, the Cowboys need more. With the NFL Draft just days away, America’s Team has been doing their due diligence on Penn State Defensive End Yetur Gross-Matos and could be willing to trade down to acquire his services.
Gross-Matos, albeit in a reserved role, showed flashes of the player he would eventually become his freshman year with 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. By his sophomore season, he elevated his game to 54 tackles (20 tackles for loss), eight sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery while garnering first-team All-Big Ten honors. As a junior, he was productive once again as he registered 40 tackles (14.5 tackles for loss) and nine sacks en route to his second consecutive first-team All-Big Ten nod.
Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn St: * Speed out of the starting blocks * Inside-out versatility (++) * Effective and violent looper * Moldable baseline traits (+) * Speed-to-Power transitions * Having answers to initial moves (+) * Creative hands to exploit OTs https://t.co/8vJgIGyz1v
Before the sacks and all-conference accolades came about, Gross-Matos suffered unimaginable tragedy in his life. At around a year old, his biological father died after saving him from drowning. 10 years later, his older brother also died after being struck by lightning. Naturally, teams asked him about these tragedies while covering their bases on potential prospects. However, Gross-Matos feels that only scratches the surface of who he is.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately,” Gross-Matos said in a phone interview. “Everyone kind of wants to hear about tragedies I’ve faced, how I’ve dealt with that and getting through that. But I feel like there is a lot more to who I am and the kind of player I’ve been in my life.
“Those are definitely some of my more defining moments, but there are a lot of people who have been putting in time and effort. That’s just a piece of the story on a much larger picture.”
The Cowboys have had their eye on Gross-Matos for a while now. They met with the former Nittany Lion in February at the NFL Scouting Combine. Earlier this month, owner Jerry Jones, coach Mike McCarthy, and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula were among the staff members present for a Zoom conference call with Gross-Matos due to the restrictions caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch “Most Underrated DE in College Football 💯 || Penn State DE Yetur Gross-Matos Highlights ᴴᴰ” on YouTube
Gross-Matos played primarily on the right side of the defensive line in college. This is a huge area of need for the Cowboys and makes him an ideal pick to play opposite All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence who holds down the left side. Also, he showed the versatility to slide inside and rush from the interior which only adds to his value.
Scouting report according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein
“Ascending 4-3 defensive end who should go from good size to imposing frame as he fills out his power-forward body type. He isn’t overly twitchy but impressive length, fluidity and short-area athleticism allow him consistent work-arounds against opposing blockers. He’s average at the point of attack by NFL standards, but that should change with additional strength work and more efficient hand usage. The rush toolbox is only halfway full, but it’s just a matter of time before his spin move and a speed-to-power charge become part of a diversified attack. Gross-Matos should be an early starter, but when the power and skill catch up with the athleticism, look for him to become one of the more productive defenders in the league.”
Players such as Xavier McKinney, CJ Henderson, and K’Lavon Chaisson have been picked to be the Cowboys first-round selection, and rightfully so based on their talent. However, solidifying your defensive front with Gross-Matos while also gaining more draft capital isn’t a bad idea either.