Grading Carolina Panthers' last five second-round picks ahead of 2024 draft

How have the Carolina Panthers fared with their recent second-round selections?
Jonathan Mingo
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Yetur Gross-Matos

  • Edge Rusher | Penn State Nittany Lions
  • No. 38 overall | 2020 NFL Draft

Yetur Gross-Matos was projected by many to be a first-round pick in 2020. The edge rusher appeared to have a lot of skills that could easily transfer to the next level. When he dropped out of the first 32 picks and into the Carolina Panthers' lap at No. 38 overall, it was an opportunity those in power at the time couldn't pass up.

Hopes were relatively high that Gross-Matos could become a key rotational piece at worst during his transition. Unfortunately for the defensive end, he endured a rookie campaign that won't live long in the memory.

The former Penn State star was unable to capitalize on a starting opportunity the following season. Gross-Matos set the edge well against the run and showed promise when deployed as a three-technique rushing from the interior, but it was clear from a long way out that was never going to become the double-digit sack guy Carolina hoped opposite Brian Burns.

Gross-Matos put together his best season under Ejiro Evero in 2023 after switching to a 3-4 outside linebacker. He made significant strides in run support and caused havoc in opposing backfields more frequently. Many thought he'd get another deal as a result, but his progress didn't go unnoticed by others around the league.

After deciding not to extend Chase Young, the San Francisco 49ers targeted Gross-Matos as a replacement. A two-year, $18 million agreement was enough to get the deal done. This places him on a loaded defense with gifted playmakers at all three levels.

Grade: C

Whether the Panthers made an effort to keep Gross-Matos around or not is unknown. He didn't meet expectations as a high-end second-round selection, but he did make it to the end of his rookie deal without being traded or released. Both sides have now gone their separate ways, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him make further improvements with a more prolific supporting cast in the California sunshine.