The Atlanta Falcons spent Thursday morning wrapping up preparations for their first preseason game against the Titans on Friday in the Georgia Dome. Here are a few pictures from the day.
Former Clemson defensive tackle and Atlanta native Grady Jarrett watched his name fall down the draft board on April 31. In the eyes of most prospective football players, slipping back in the draft is the worst possible thing that could happen.
It turns out that this was the least of Jarrett's problems on draft weekend.
As Jarrett waited for his name to be called with 50 of his closest friends and family gathered for a watch party, a sense of panic began to set in at the Jarrett household. Jarrett was projected to be a second- or third-round draft pick—and while one would think the panic was due to the fact that he hadn't been drafted yet—something worse occurred.
Smoke started to spread in his family home and by the time anyone realized what was going on, one of the walls in the house was engulfed in flames.
Cue the chaos.
911 was called right away and everyone at the party was able to exit the house without any injuries. Unfortunately, by the time the responders arrived, the entire left side of the house had burned down.
Jarrett and company moved the party to his cousin's house for the third and final day of the 2015 NFL Draft with no idea what to expect.
Jessie Tuggle, former Falcons Pro Bowl linebacker and Ring of Honor member, is Jarrett's father. The Falcons asked Tuggle to announce their fifth-round pick, and the name he spoke is one he knew quite well.
"With the first pick of the fifth round, No. 137 overall, the Atlanta Falcons select Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle from Clemson," Tuggle announced.
From the midst of disaster, finally a reason to celebrate for Grady and his family.
"At the end of the day I am glad I am here at the Falcons. I got to stay home and get to play for some great people and a program that is on the upcoming that has a new first year head coach," Jarrett said. "I feel like I got here at the right time and I am really excited for the future and the scheme of things and how everything is going at this moment."
The stage couldn't be set any brighter for the rookie who will play in front of his family at the Georgia Dome—a stadium that he is very familiar with— on Friday night.
With an impressive showing at XFINITY® Falcons Training Camp thus far, it seems that Jarrett has the chance to become one of the best defensive rookies in the league this season. Dan Quinn and Richard Smith's defense is built upon their defenders' ability to play fast and physical, and that is exactly what Jarrett does. Known for his quick first step and strength, the system couldn't be a better fit for Jarrett's style of play.
"I definitely want to be one of the better defensive rookies in the league and that is what I come out here and work for," Jarrett said. "I feel like I have the people around me to help accomplish that and it's up to me to handle what I can and control and go out there and show the type of player I am. I definitely want to have one of the most successful rookie seasons in the entire league."
With an unwavering belief in himself and dedication to staying accountable and giving his all, the rookie has all the tools in place for a successful season.
"The best part of being an Atlanta Falcon is that I can truly and honestly say there is no place else in the world that I would rather be right now," Jarrett said. "The whole entire scheme of it, it's almost like it was destined and I am trying to do everything in my power to show that I belong and I wouldn't want to do it anywhere else."