Grady Jarrett went in the fifth round. I repeat that little factoid because there is no way Grady Jarrett should have made it to the fifth round, no obvious reason I’ve found that he did, and it’s remarkable how bad he has made that draft day fall look.
Up until Sunday’s Super Bowl, Jarrett had been a good-to-great defensive tackle who held up well against the run, was capable of generating pressure effectively, and came up wit the occasional sack. He looked like the team’s best defensive tackle throughout most of this season, which is nothing to sneeze at, but this is also the weakest crop of DTs the Falcons have had in a while. If Jarrett just sort of hummed along at that level of play for a decade, he’d be a terrific starter and someone the Falcons would love to have around, and he’s certainly outplayed his draft status.
After watching him in the Super Bowl, though, I have to ask a bigger question. Did we just see Grady Jarrett deliver on his considerable promise and arrive as the kind of defensive tackle you can build a line around? Because friends, I think that is a distinct possibility.
It’s hard to overstate just how good Jarrett was last night. He sacked Brady three times, regularly annihilated his man and got pressure, and was achingly close to bringing Brady down for a safety. He was also one of the team’s key run defenders, and while he wore down a little bit in that regard as the game ground on, so did more or less everyone else. This was nothing short of a phenomenal effort on the biggest stage imaginable, and it hinted toward the possibility that what we’ve seen from Jarrett so far was just a prelude to genuine greatness.
I am getting ahead of myself—it was still just one game—but the talent is there. I don’t think it’s outlandish to suggest that Jarrett, who is entering that crucial third year, might prove to be something special sooner rather than later.
If the Falcons are going to take a step forward, they’ll need guys like Jarrett, Vic Beasley, De’Vondre Campbell, and even stellar rookies Deion Jones and Keanu Neal to grow and thrive. All of these guys seem to be on track—Beasley just needs consistency, but is already arguably there—but it’s Jarrett who may prove to be one of the best.