Two Penn State football players are first-rounders in Kiper’s first Mock Draft

Penn State football players Yetur Gross-Matos and KJ Hamler are selected in the first round of ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper’s first 2020 NFL Mock Draft.

Mel Kiper is synonymous with the NFL draft and his first mock draft of the offseason has him placing two Penn State football players in the first round. Former Nittany Lion defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos heads to the Tennessee Titans at Pick No. 29 while former Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler immediately follows him at No. 30 to the Green Bay Packers.

Penn State Football

STATE COLLEGE, PA – AUGUST 31: Yetur Gross-Matos #99 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates against the Idaho Vandals during the first half at Beaver Stadium on August 31, 2019 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Gross-Matos has been routinely mocked in the first round this offseason while Hamler has seen his name appear just once before in the opening round. This is the most prominent spot that Hamler has landed and Kiper lauded about his skills with the ball in his hands.

When Green Bay had two first-round picks a year ago, I thought surely it would use one on a receiver to help out Aaron Rodgers, who has had Davante Adams and a bunch of late-round picks for the past few seasons. But no, the Packers went defense on Day 1. And while their defense was improved, the dearth of talent behind Adams reared its head again, as the No. 2 non-running back pass-catcher was former undrafted wideout Allen Lazard. What does Rodgers have to do to get some help? Hamler, who at 5-foot-9 reminds me a little bit of Marquise Brown, is electric with the ball in his hands. He could rise even more after he works out at the combine. Offensive tackle could be another potential target for Green Bay.

Hamler is electric with the ball in his hands and has been described as one of the hardest receivers to tackle in all of college football. If he wasn’t beating defenders deep after just a single cut, he was making cornerbacks, safeties or linebackers look silly as they tried to tackle air.

 

All Penn State football fans rightly know just how good Hamler was last year, just as they likely know how good Gross-Matos was for the Nittany Lions in 2019. Gross-Matos had 9.5 sacks and 40 total tackles as he was a menace to the quarterback more often than he wasn’t. He joins a talented defense in Tennessee in Kiper’s mock draft including former All-ACC defensive end Harold Landry as a dynamic complement.

Kiper explained how Gross-Matos’ work ethic, wingspan and all-around ability cement his place in the first round:

The Titans are another team with a few big pending free agents, and their list includes quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota, running back Derrick Henry, cornerback Logan Ryan and offensive tackle Jack Conklin. But they also have some uncertainty at edge rusher, with Kamalei Correa, who had five sacks, a free agent, and soon-to-be 38-year-old Cameron Wake coming back from a serious injury. Gross-Matos is a pick to help the competition on the other side of Harold Landry, who came into his own this season. Gross-Matos has long arms on his 6-foot-5 frame, and he is stellar against the run. He’s not a quick-twitch pass-rusher like Young or Chaisson, but he’s a solid player and hard worker. General manager Jon Robinson has an eye for talent, and it’s a huge offseason for Tennessee.

Gross-Matos is all but a lock for the first round at this point in time but to see Hamler’s rise to the top 32 picks has been something else. The rest of the general world and ‘draft pundits’ are catching up with what Nittany Lion fans already knew — and that’s that Hamler is special.

As is Gross-Matos.

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