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Falcons player profile: DT Grady Jarrett

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We’re kicking off our Falcons player profile series with a look at the projected starters. We begin the DT position today with a look at one of the stars of Atlanta’s defense: Grady Jarrett. Can he replicate his impressive 2019 production, or even improve upon it in 2020?

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.

We’ll get things started with the projected starters. The second group I’ll be taking a look at is DT, where the Falcons invested a second-round pick in Marlon Davidson and re-signed run-stuffing specialist Tyeler Davison. Just how good can this unit be in 2020?

Today we’ll take a look at one of the stars of the Falcons young defense: Grady Jarrett.

DT Grady Jarrett

Age: 27

Contract: $12.3M cap hit in 2020, signed through 2022 ($17M APY)

Career Production: 77 games played, 62 games started | 248 total tackles, 43.0 TFL, 21.5 sacks, 5 FF

2019 Production: 16 games played, 16 games started | 69 total tackles, 12.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 2 FF, 26 total pressures

Previous Teams: Drafted 5th round (#137 overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2015-present)

Measurables:

One of the NFL’s premier DTs and arguably the best player on the Falcons defense, Grady Jarrett has been a huge hit for the team ever since his rookie season. A 5th-round pick who was overlooked due to his lack of ideal size—he’s just 6’0, 305—Jarrett turned into a quality player almost immediately, and continued to improve his play each season. A relatively quiet 2015 (24 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks) was followed by an improved 2016, where Jarrett established himself as a threat on the interior (48 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks).

Jarrett continued to improve on his numbers and overall play in 2017 on arguably the best Falcons defense of Dan Quinn’s tenure. His strong play finally translated into high-level production (55 tackles, 15.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks), and Jarrett began to make a name for himself as a rising star at DT. In a contract year in 2018, Jarrett put together another excellent performance despite losing two games to injury and playing on an injury-ravaged defense (52 tackles, 8.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks).

Jarrett received a lucrative contract from the Falcons in the 2019 offseason, and rewarded the team’s confidence with the best season of his career: 69 tackes, 12.0 TFL, and 7.5 sacks. It’s rare for a player to have a career year after they’ve been paid, which is further proof that Jarrett is a genuinely special player. Now heading into his sixth season in Atlanta, Jarrett is among the elite players at his position.

His versatility as both a run stuffer and pass rusher is incredibly valuable on the interior, allowing the Falcons to use him in both nickel and base sets. Jarrett played primarily 1T nose tackle early in his career, but has become just as effective as a 3T penetrator—further increasing his value and ability to be moved around the formation. The Falcons lack many proven options on the defensive line and will be depending on Jarrett to be their anchor once again in 2020.

Projection: Elite DT production as both a pass rusher and run defender. Expect around 8.0 sacks and 12.0 TFL—and possibly even more if the Falcons defense improves as a whole. Jarrett is entering his prime years and has shown no indications that he has peaked yet as a player. 2020 could be his most impressive season yet, but even a repeat of 2019 would be an excellent accomplishment.