It didn't take long for Grady Jarrett to become one of the NFL’s most consistent rookies.
It began on opening night when he pressured Sam Bradford into throwing a key interception; as the season wore on, Jarrett became a valuable asset on first and second downs, tallying 14 defensive stops on 113 snaps against the run. Only three defensive tackles earned higher run-stop percentages.
This success has given the Falcons confidence that Jarrett can handle a bigger workload next year. And the Clemson product is ready to show he’s deserving of such a role.
“Definitely you know what’s to come now,” Jarrett said. “So you’re more comfortable. (I’m) just taking it to another level as far as learning our defense.”
The plan, according to head coach Dan Quinn, is to move Jarrett to nose tackle full-time in 2016. The 6-foot, 305-pounder has a lot of experience at that spot and is confident the transition will help him and the team.
“I’m real comfortable at the nose position,” Jarrett said. “It’s where I played my whole career at Clemson and half the time I’ve been here. … It’s not a big transition for me. It’s a place I’m really comfortable at and (where) I’m going to be able to make a lot of plays.
"I want to be an every-down defensive tackle that can play base and nickel, so I’m working hard to become a master of my craft and just get better every day.”
Atlanta wants interior linemen who can eat up space, get into the backfield, and move well — and Jarrett undoubtedly fits this mold.
“In our system, we move more so than traditional 3-4 teams. That’s (why we want) our nose tackle to have that versatility,” Quinn said. “Always, from the (beginning) of ball to now, that interior line takes a lot of toughness, whether you’re on the move like we are — where we’re a one gap team, where we can penetrate a little more — or where you’re playing 3-4, where you’re more sturdy and two-gapping.
"We know Grady, although he’s not 330 pounds, he’s strong and he plays with good quickness. So we’re (looking forward to) seeing what he can do.”