Though not as highly touted of a matchup as the LSU-Alabama game, the Penn State-Minnesota game will also showcase several draft-eligible players in this weekend’s other game of unbeatens.
Penn State has around nine players who could be selected in the 2020 NFL draft or find themselves at least on a practice roster, including WR K.J. Hamler, a redshirt sophomore, OG Steven Gonzalez, DEs Yetur Gross-Matos and Toney Shaka, DT Robert Windsor, LB Cam Brown, and DBs John Reid, Garrett Taylor and Tariq Castro-Fields.
By the time the draft rolls around in May, more names could be added (or subtracted) from that list.
And Minnesota doesn’t get this far with an undefeated record without its share of draft-eligible prospects, too. Most prominent among them are WR Tyler Johnson, RB Rodney Smith, Edge Carter Coughlin, LB Kamal Martin, and S Antoine Winfield Jr.
Out of those 14 players, Penn State’s Gross-Matos is the most highly touted thus far, although Hamler and Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson could hear their names called on Day 1 or 2.
Dan Brugler of The Athletic ranks Gross-Matos as the 29th best prospect and fourth-best defensive end. Fanspeak ranks him as the 57th best prospect.
Generally speaking, scouts love Gross-Matos’ size (6-foot-5, 264 pounds) and athleticism. He’s currently tied with Shaka for a team-best 5.5 sacks, leads the team with 9.5 TFLs and 6 QBHs and has 26 tackles.
However, experts say he’s still a bit raw of a prospect.
“Similar to his sophomore tape, Gross-Matos is still developing his pass rush setup and sequence to be a more efficient edge player. But the raw talent is easy to spot and has led to rush production, leading Penn State with 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks through eight games.”