Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is defensive tackle. This unit has undergone few changes this offseason, with Pro Bowl veteran Grady Jarrett, ascending nose tackle Anthony Rush, former second-rounder Marlon Davidson, and 2021 fifth-rounder Ta’Quon Graham all returning for 2022.
First up, Pro Bowl veteran Grady Jarrett.
DT Grady Jarrett
Contract: $12.9M cap hit in 2022, under contract through 2025
Career Production: 110 games played, 95 games started | 359 total tackles (198 solo), 54.0 TFL | 26.5 sacks, 89 QB hits, 5 FF, 1 PD
2021 Production: 17 games played, 17 games started | 59 total tackles (38 solo), 3.0 TFL, 11.9% MTR | 1.0 sacks, 17 total pressures, 1 PD
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 5th Round (137th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2015-present)
Without a doubt the best defensive lineman drafted by Thomas Dimitroff, Grady Jarrett began outperforming expectations almost immediately. Just a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Jarrett played a rotational role in his rookie season but was absurdly productive on less than 300 snaps with 24 total tackles, 4.0 TFL, and a sack. He announced himself to the league in 2016 with an elite performance, particularly in the playoffs, and never looked back.
An undersized defensive tackle with exceptional explosiveness and above-average strength, Jarrett thrived as a penetrating 3T in Dan Quinn’s 4-3 under system. He’s an incredible disruptor who can dominate one-on-one opportunities and wreak havoc against both the run and pass. Jarrett has also found ways to produce with very little talent around him, as the Falcons have consistently deployed poor defensive lines for much of the past five seasons. One of the bigger failings of Dimitroff’s drafting was an inability to find a quality partner for Jarrett on the interior.
Jarrett had a down year in 2021 as Atlanta transitioned to a 3-4 defense. More than the schematic change, Jarrett also had arguably the worst supporting cast of his career. He still produced as a tackler and put up nearly 20 pressures. Heading into 2022 and now under contract through 2025 thanks to a massive extension, the hope is that Jarrett will be more comfortable in the new scheme and have better players around him.
Projection: Grady Jarrett is a core piece on the defensive line and one of Atlanta’s only remaining veteran stars. A key team leader who has proven himself as one of the NFL’s premier interior defensive linemen, Jarrett should have a bounce-back season with more experience in the scheme and a better supporting cast.