Thomas Dimitroff didn’t a ton of draft success late in his tenure as Atlanta Falcons general manager. But his pick of defensive tackle Grady Jarrett in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft is still paying dividends.
On June 28, ESPN’s Matt Miller and Jordan Reid ranked the Falcons selecting Jarrett the No. 26 draft steal of the past decade.
“Jarrett’s pre-draft scouting report included the word ‘undersized,’ as he lacked length and strength at the point of attack at 6-foot and 305 pounds,” Reid wrote. “Aaron Donald blazed a trail for undersized interior defenders, but Jarrett also helped prove that smaller interior prospects can make a big NFL impact.
“His 17.5% pass rush win rate since 2017 ranks third among interior players, and he landed a big three-year extension in 2022 worth over $50 million.”
Eight years later, Jarrett is one of the top steals in his draft class. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs was the only 2015 selection ranked ahead of Jarrett on Miller and Reid’s list.
The Vikings selected Diggs at No. 146 overall. The ESPN draft steals list ranked that selection at No. 7.
Unlike the Vikings, the Falcons have their draft steal from eight years ago still on the roster. In eight seasons, Jarrett has posted 420 combined tackles, including 66 tackles for loss and 106 quarterback hits. He has also posted 32.5 sacks, 4 pass defenses, and 5 forced fumbles.
Jarrett turned 30 in April, but he remains the centerpiece of Atlanta’s defense.
New Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot signed several defensive veterans this offseason. But those moves were an obvious effort to help Jarrett. The hope is that with defenders such as Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree, Jarrett will face fewer double teams.
As it was, though, Jarrett had 6 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 17 quarterback hits last season. His 6 sacks were his most since 2019.
Jarrett was the lone Atlanta selection on ESPN’s list of draft steals over the past decade. The New Orleans Saints led all teams with four entries on the list.
The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings also had four players ranked in the top 50.
Atlanta’s other division rivals did not fare as well. The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were two of eight teams that didn’t have a player on the list.