Grady Jarrett bet on himself and won big


An hour before Monday’s deadline for those franchised tagged to reach a long term deal with their clubs, Grady Jarrett and the Atlanta Falcons reached terms on a four year deal.

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett has heard it his entire life. Too short, too small, not fast enough. Grady has always ignored the naysayers and bet on himself.

That mentality has routinely paid off for the 26 year old Conyers native.

Coming out of Rockdale County high school, Jarrett was just a three star defensive tackle without a lot of offers. His senior year he was the heavyweight state wrestling champion and caught the attention of Clemson’s football program and was offered a scholarship to come play football.

At Clemson, the chatter did not stop. Too small, too short, not fast enough.

Grady Jarrett would end up finishing his Clemson career as an All-ACC selection at defensive tackle and would set the tone for young guys like recent first round pick Christian Wilkins. Heading into the combine he heard the same chatter – undersized.

By this time Grady was known for his explosive first step, consider him a pocket rocket. Going back to his wrestling days, he understood leverage and how to use his opponent’s size to work against them, not himself. Grady was known for motor, a guy that would play until the whistle blew; he never took plays off.

At the NFL combine, he ran a 5.06 40 yard dash, bench 225 pounds an impressive 30 times and showed his explosiveness with a 31 inch vertical.

The Falcons liked what they saw.

The Falcons would trade up in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft to take Grady. (At the time, I was a radio host on the Falcons radio network and declared then that Grady would be the steal of the 2015 draft. I also went on to say that if Grady was 6’5 not 5’10, that he would have gone top five not the fifth round.)

Grady has proven just how important he is. Sure, fans and talking heads will point to his 14 regular season sacks and proclaim he is overrated. However, he is the lone bright star on an otherwise dark defensive line. Grady plays both the run and pass as well as any defensive tackle in the NFL. He puts a lot of pressure of the offensive line and quarterback in front of him and while that has not turned into a ton of sacks, anyone with a brain knows what this defense would be without him.

Yesterday instead of praising the Falcons and Grady Jarrett for getting a deal done and removing a distraction going into training camp, local radio host Mark Zinno instead took to hot takes declaring Grady is overrated and overpaid; and basing it on what Aaron Donald has accomplished in his young career.

No, Grady is not Aaron Donald and he does not have to be. No one in the history of the league has accomplished the things that Donald has in his first five years and comparing anyone to Donald is downright foolish and utterly ridiculous.

PFF had Grady grading out as the 11th best defender versus the run and fifth best grade in the NFL as a third down pass rusher and was one of six players to lead their team in QB pressures and run stops.

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Let’s be glad the Falcons and Grady were able to get a long term deal completed. More importantly, let’s look forward to four more years of Grady Jarrett, the best defensive tackle the Falcons have ever had.