Editor's Note: This feature on Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is the third story in AtlantaFalcons.com's "Meet the Scouts" series.
The series provides insight into key members of the Falcons' player personnel department, and behind the scenes looks at how the Falcons discovered some of their top players.
By Kris Rhim
It was January of 2014. Clemson versus Ohio State at the Orange Bowl.
Falcons then-regional scout Anthony Robinson was in the building with his notebook in hand, prepared to scout two of the best teams in the nation.
January is one of the most important times of the year for scouts. Major bowl games give them an opportunity to evaluate the most talented players in the country matching up head-to-head, and Ohio State and Clemson's Orange Bowl matchup had as much future talent as one could ask for.
Clemson boasted future first-round picks and other NFL talent such as Sammy Watkins, Vic Beasley, and Ohio State had Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby, to name a few.
Yet, it was another player who caught Robinson's attention.
"Watching the game, I was like 'Holy S*!'" said Robinson, now Falcons director of college scouting, "He's hitting gaps, tackling, making plays in the backfield. He's getting sacks. He's beating blocks.
"Like, this is Ohio State, this is a big-time program. They won the national championship. They got guys going to the NFL flying out of there every year, right? So if he's doing this against Ohio State, why can't he do this in the NFL?"
The player wreaking havoc on the Ohio State offensive line that day was future Falcons Pro Bowl defensive lineman Grady Jarrett. In his seventh professional season, Jarrett has become one of the best interior rushers in the league. In the offseason, NFL players ranked Jarrett as the 54th best player in the NFL top 100. And he Falcons rewarded Jarrett for his play in 2019 by making him the third highest-paid interior defensive linemen in the league.
Yet, just seven years ago, Jarrett was not seen as the surefire NFL superstar he has become. Standing barely 6-foot, 300-pounds at the time, his size was an issue for scouts, and every NFL team passed up on Jarrett. He was the tenth defensive tackle drafted when the Falcons selected him in the fifth round at No. 137 overall.