What exactly do the Carolina Panthers have at DE in 2021?

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /

Yetur Gross-Matos – Carolina Panthers DE

One player who seems to be going relatively overlooked this offseason is Yetur Gross-Matos. The 2020 second-round pick showed flashes of excellence during his rookie campaign, which was derailed somewhat by injury and COVID-19 complications.

That being said, there was far more good than bad where Gross-Matos was concerned. The Carolina Panthers clearly got a bargain when they selected the Penn State product at No. 38 overall, but what comes next in Year 2 of his professional career will be equally as important.

Gross-Matos does appear to boast the necessary explosiveness to make a better go of things providing his injury problems become a thing of the past. Having two solid options ahead of him on the depth chart can take some pressure off, allowing the sophomore to come in and make a difference from a key rotational role.

There are some areas of Gross-Matos’ game that need work, particularly when it comes to stopping the run. But the player only has to look at how big Brian Burns’ leap was during his second season to see what can be accomplished with hard work and dedication.

In 12 games and seven starts for the Panthers in 2020, Gross-Matos recorded 2.5 sacks, six quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, 24 tackles, and 12 pressures. All this from just 36 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps.

This is a big season awaiting Gross-Matos. One that should tell us much more about what to expect from the explosive pass-rusher long term.