The Carolina Panthers selected defensive end Yatur Gross-Matos in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft, but this season, the former Penn State Nittany Lion has yet to start a game.
Gross-Matos has a great physique at 6’5″ and 260 lbs. He plays the run extremely well (he grades out at a respectable 73.7 according to Pro Football Focus) but has yet to develop as a pass rusher at the NFL level. The Panthers utilize Brian Burns and Morgan Fox for most of their defensive end reps, and Gross-Matos typically is on the field for just 25% of the team’s defensive snaps. In 2021, Gross-Matos has just two pressures and zero sacks. But his effort and motor are noticeable, and it’s possible that he could reach his ceiling in Kansas City if he received more of an opportunity.
One area in which the Chiefs have struggled the most is in creating havoc with their front four. Frank Clark has yet to make any noticeable impact this season. Former 5th round pick Mike Danna has been the Chiefs’ best edge rusher, but he is a low-ceiling type of player whom the Chiefs should not be relying upon to anchor the defensive line. Alex Okafor and Joshua Kaindoh (currently on IR) have also given the Chiefs some reps there, but the Chiefs need a boost.
A trade for a defensive end would signify the Chiefs’ commitment to moving Chris Jones back inside. Jones, a former All-Pro defensive tackle, racked up two sacks in the team’s season-opening win against Cleveland, but those are his only sacks on the year. Without Jones’ disruptive presence in the middle, the Chiefs’ front four has not been the same this season, and many fans and pundits alike agree that it’s time to end the experiment. That’s why we have more than one defensive end on our list.
Gross-Matos would probably net the Panthers a 3rd or 4th round pick in the 2022 draft.