Despite down 2021 campaign, Grady Jarrett still among NFL’s best defenders

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The Falcons signed defensive tackle Eddie Goldman on Wednesday afternoon, giving Grady Jarrett a decent running mate along the interior. For much of his career in Atlanta, the former Clemson Tiger has been battling interior offensive linemen basically by himself. Now, that’ll change.

Jarrett had a down 2021 campaign by his standards, but he’s still one of the best defenders in the league. ESPN ranked the NFL’s top 10 defensive tackles for the 2022 season (subscription required). The network surveyed over 50 league executives, coaches, scouts, and players to vote on their top ten players at the defensive tackle position, and Jarrett checked in at No. 9:

For the second consecutive year, Jarrett garnered enough votes to sneak into the top 10 but not enough to make a sizable jump.

“A little declined but really good player,” an NFL senior personnel exec said. “Wins with initial quickness. Still one of the best at that. So if he keeps that, he’ll always be productive.”

We saw one sack in 2021 on 12 quarterback hits for Jarrett, whose baseline stats don’t tell his full story. His get-off (burst off the line of scrimmage) still stands out. And the Falcons rewarded that skill with a big-money extension this offseason.

Once labeled as a player who struggles against the run, Jarrett comes in with a decently strong 35.5% run stop win rate (35th among defensive linemen) to complement his 15.4% pass rush rate (fourth among defensive tackles).

With Goldman in the fold, Jarrett should have a more impressive year statistically. The former Bear is stout against the run and should free up Jarrett to make more plays, but he’s also a decent pass rusher, which should benefit Jarrett even more.

Over the course of his career, the son of former Falcon Jesse Tuggle has started 95 games, totaling 359 tackles, 26.5 sacks, 54 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, and 89 quarterback hits. The two-time Pro Bowler has been a stalwart of this team since he was drafted, and the Falcons front office realized that, giving him a lucrative three-year extension. Entering his eighth season in Atlanta, Jarrett will once again try to get his team to the postseason.

Photographer: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire

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