STACY ROST

Seahawks draft profiles: Could Seattle take DEs Gross-Matos or Okwara?

Apr 11, 2020, 9:34 AM | Updated: 11:13 am
Seahawks Yetur Gross-Matos...
Could Penn State DE Yetur Gross-Matos be the Seahawks' next edge rusher? (Getty)
(Getty)

The NFL Draft is less than two weeks away and the Seahawks are on the board at No. 27. They could always trade back; in fact, it would be a break from tradition to stay put. But who might be available to the Seahawks at No. 27 and would that player help Seattle on its way back to a Super Bowl? That’s the question we’re looking to answer in our third phase of our Seahawks offseason project on Tom, Jake and Stacy.

Related: Draft prospects: Would Auburn’s Davidson fit in Seattle?

Our preview of the draft continued Thursday with a look at two edge rushers: Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos and Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara.

Yetur Gross-Matos

The basics

Height/weight: 6’5/266
Class: Jr.
Hometown: Spotsylvania, VA
College career stats: 18.5 sacks, 35.5 tackles for loss
2019 season: 9.0 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss
Notable: 34 7/8 inch arms, Ted Hendricks Award finalist

How he fits in Seattle

Gross-Matos fills the Seahawks’ greatest need – edge rusher – and brings plenty of talent and promise at that. He’s a lengthy edge rusher who boasts the arm length Pete Carroll has typically valued at corner, but also lauds at other positions (current defensive tackle Poona Ford is a prime example). That length, athleticism and speed make him a disruptive force, and it’s why most draft analysts are projecting Gross-Matos as a late first-rounder or early second-rounder.

He saw his best production yet in 2019 with nine sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Gross-Matos was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award (given to college football’s best defensive end) and a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award.

The big question

Can he live up to his ceiling? NFL analyst Lance Zierlein compares Gross-Matos to former Bill Pro Bowler Aaron Schobel and says he should be an early starter, but also says his “rush toolbox is only halfway full.”

Likewise, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps says Gross-Matos is still very raw.

“He’s not a skilled rusher in that he doesn’t have every move down,” Heaps said. “He’s going to come in a have to work hard at refining his game. He’s also not very stout against the run.”

Still, Gross-Matos’ upside and athleticism will be tempting enough for a team to take him early. Will it be Seattle?

Julian Okwara

The Basics

Height/weight: 6’4/252
Class: Sr.
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
College career stats: 15.5 sacks, 24.0 tackles for loss
2019 season: 5.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss in nine games
Notable: Team captain (2019), suffered season-ending injury in final season

How he fits in Seattle

Like Gross-Matos, Okwara is a lengthy edge rusher and early-round talent who fills an immediate need for Seattle.

“He’s a talented pass rusher with good use of his hands, an explosive first step, and really fits the Seahawks’ need for a pure edge rusher,” Heaps said.

The big question

Can he be an every-down defensive end?

“He’s not an every-down defensive end,” Heaps said. “He played in a 3-4 scheme with Notre Dame. Just like Clowney coming in last year, I think there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve.”

Okwara is also coming off a fractured fibula suffered in early November, for which he underwent surgery.

If you want to hear Heaps’ profile on Gross-Matos and Okwara, check out Hour 3 of Thursday’s Tom, Jake and Stacy. Be sure to tune in every weekday from noon-3 p.m. and stick around for more draft prospect profiles every weekday at 2 p.m.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Stacy Rost on Twitter.

More Seahawks offseason coverage

Moore: Ranking the Seahawks’ draft success round by round
Do the Seahawks need to take a receiver in this receiver-rich draft?
Heaps: Despite moves, Seahawks’ defense has not improved from 2019
Why 3 2019 defensive rookies need to step up for the Seahawks
Seahawks 2020 offseason tracker

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Seahawks draft profiles: Could Seattle take DEs Gross-Matos or Okwara?