Since he joined the Atlanta Falcons as a fifth-round draft pick in 2015, Grady Jarrett has done nothing short of becoming one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL.
Every player in the league is incredibly talented, which is why effort and commitment often separate those who become successful and those who don't. Jarrett has proven to be an unflinchingly dedicated worker when it comes to improving his craft, and it resulted in his first Pro Bowl season in 2019.
Jarrett started all 16 games for the Falcons last year and had a career-best season, recording 69 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits. Despite the success he enjoyed in 2019, Jarrett is never satisfied and wants to continue representing himself in the best possible way.
"No matter how good or bad things go, I'm always going to try to be my best and prepare in a way where I can put my best foot forward," Jarrett said Monday, after the Falcons' first on-field workouts. "When things are going good, when things are going bad, you've always got to try to lead your teammates and encourage them. You can always be better, and I could always be worse, so you've got to always be thankful for where you are."
As his play on the field has improved with each successive season, so has Jarrett's standing as a leader within the locker room. Jarrett was seen leading the defensive line drills while the Falcons got some conditioning work on the field Monday, an on-field session for which coaches were not permitted to be present.
Jarrett has also taken to heart becoming a leader within the community, participating in and leading social justice conversations during previous offseasons. This unwavering commitment to bettering himself has worked out well thus far for Jarrett, and it makes it difficult to pinpoint just how high his ceiling might be.
The Falcons need to see improvement from their defense in 2020. Atlanta looked out of sorts on that side of the ball during its 1-7 start but took great strides during the second half of the season while finishing 6-2. If they can continue to play at the level they did when the weather turned cool, the Falcons defense will make the team a truly balanced group.
On the interior of Atlanta's defensive line, Jarrett has proven a consistently excellent member of the Falcons' defense in both the good times and the bad. He continues to set the highest standard for himself, and his pursuit of that standard provides an example for his teammates to follow. Jarrett's approach has made him a Pro Bowler, but he's got bigger things in mind for himself and his team.
"As a competitor, you always want to play for the championship; you always want to play for the postseason and get deep in there and win a lot of games," Jarrett said. "Of course I always want to get better, but I wouldn't compare the past experience of making it a frustration point for me. It's just a point of motivation to try to get better, to try to get back to where I know we can be."
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was unanimously selected to the 2010-2019 Atlanta Falcons All-Decade Team.