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Grady Jarrett should be the first player the Jets sign to open free agency

Grady Jarrett 6’ 1” 295 lbs Defensive Tackle #97 Atlanta Falcons

When the players on the free agent list first came out I was stunned to see the name Grady Jarrett as one of the players. Jarrett is one of the best 3-techs in all of football and he is just now entering his prime. I found out the reason he was on the list is he wants to be paid like one of the best players at his position and why not? The Falcons have a little over $26 million in cap space so they could get the job done but they have a number of players coming up for a raise and they may not want to give a large portion of that money to one player. He is going to want a contract in the 5 year/$80 million range which is a huge chunk of change. They could opt to let him walk and take a 3rd round comp pick next year. That would be music to my ears.

When the Jets first hired Greg Williams as the defensive coordinator I was concerned as to who would play the 3-tech in his base 4-3 defense. He had Aaron Donald as a 3-tech with the Rams and, paired with Michael Brockers, they were the key element in that defense. When he was in Cleveland he had Larry Ogunjobi as his 3-tech, a player who is under the radar with Myles Garrett on the outside. In Williams’ system Ogunjobi had 6 sacks, 52 tackles, 10 TFL and 15 QB hits in 2018.

Gregg Williams doesn’t play a base 4-3 all the time, he actually plays 42 different defensive formations during the year. He also allows his defensive captains to alter the defense depending on the formation. So you can look forward to Avery Williamson changing the defensive line calls and Jamal Adams changing the coverage before the snap. What is key to all those defenses is the penetrator, the player who disrupts the play in the offensive backfield.

The Jets currently have no player even remotely like an inside penetrator. The Jets have more pluggers than penetrators in Steve McLendon and Mike Pennel inside although Foley Fatukasi could roll inside to play the shaded nose position. The Jets also don’t have that Myles Garrett type player on the edge, so running this system of defense will not be easy. Something is going to change and Jet fans may not like it. There should be major changes to the defensive line upcoming (I think we should change the LBs too) and we will see how it all plays out.

I will go more in depth into what could be a course of action but first let’s see why I think Grady Jarrett fits like a glove in the Williams system. As Warner Wolf used to say “Let’s go to the video tape!”

Here is Jarrett in three plays from a game against the Lions. He is far too quick for the guard on these plays and causes havoc in the backfield. On the first play Jarrett feels the line flow to his right and he gets to the outside edge of the guard’s left shoulder and never lets him catch up. The guard literally pushes him to the play in a futile attempt to make a block.

On the second play Jarrett gets past the guard with a swim move so quickly he is in the backfield and over runs the play. Fortunately when the RB escapes the tackle he is stalled by other D linemen and Jarrett is able to quickly double back and make the play. The third play is a perfect stack and shed move as Jarrett is able to hold up the guard for a split second, determine where the play is going and shed the guard like a napkin and make the tackle.

This next set of clips is against the Buffalo Bills and in the first clip Jarrett is able to beat Richie Incognito to the inside and chew up the RB for a 5 yard loss. Incognito was a Pro Bowl guard that year so it wasn’t like he was abusing a backup.

On the second play he again stacks the lineman (Richie Incognito), finds the RB and sheds the guard in order to make the tackle. This is much harder than Jarrett is making it look but it is an excellent play all around. The last clip is again just a great penetrating move to get in the backfield on a 2nd and two which creates a loss yardage play. Penetration is a hallmark of Jarrett’s game but he has other elements as well.

Speed is a huge component of Jarrett’s game too. He is a man who is near 300 lbs and ran a 5.06/40 at the combine (when he was 307 lbs) and is able to chase down Tyrod Taylor.

Jarrett is unblocked and has to determine where the play is headed before he can abandon his rush lane. He is able to cut the angle against Taylor (who is in run mode from the snap) and make the tackle on a third and 12 just over the LOS. The Jets do not currently have a defensive lineman who can run down a Tyrod Taylor type of player.

Here Jarrett is playing special teams. I love starters who play special teams, it means they love the game and they love to compete. This is a fake field goal by the Seahawks that is dead in its tracks because of one guy.

You see him here using a beautiful swim move over the guard, who barely gets a hand on Jarrett. Everything in this play is blocked perfectly and is a certain TD if not for Jarrett. They had a lane and a perfect kick out block on the corner #29 so it was a perfect call if the block on Jarrett had been made.

Jarrett is quick but he is also strong and he uses great leverage against taller opponents to beat them to the play. Here you can see Jarrett has a single block and it’s almost like he is looking for the screen pass or the double team.

Once he realizes that it is just a drop back pass he abuses the center and makes the hit on the QB for an incomplete pass. Watch as the play develops, Jarrett is reading the play and once he realizes that it is a straight pass he accelerates to the center, gets lower than him, creating positive leverage, then overpowers the center and gets a nice hit on the QB.

The last set of plays is against the Panthers and the super athlete Cam Newton. The first play is a straight drop back from a shotgun formation and Jarrett just dusts the guard and has a clean shot at Newton. There is not a lot Cam can do since Jarrett is on him so quickly.

The second play is a QB run and you can see Jarrett just abuse center Ryan Khalil on the play. This again is a perfect stack and shed situation and Jarrett (who is stronger than he looks) just manhandles the center. On the last play you can see the great move by Jarrett to again abuse the center and make a sure tackle on Christian McCaffrey.

I cannot express to you how perfectly Grady Jarrett fits into the Greg Williams defense and I am sure Williams has let Mike Maccagnan know exactly how he feels. Whether Maccagnan listens or not is anyone’s guess. All I know is this is the only FA player who fits the mold.

I personally think it is 70% that the Falcons re-sign or franchise tag Jarrett before he hits free agency. I will not lie with all the players out there as FA, this is the guy I most wanted. I did a poor job when he was a prospect and didn’t value him highly enough. The truth of the matter is players like Jarrett are very difficult to rate as an athlete. He is a little shorter than most coaches like; he has a high ceiling but a very low floor. He also lost 12 lbs from his college weight that really helped his quickness. He usually is the first guy up after the snap and is on the offensive lineman before he can get his hands on Jarrett. I had him as a late 3rd round pick and he was drafted as the 1st player in the 5th round but he is so much better than that. Quickness wasn’t a huge aspect for interior D linemen at the time, power was but it has evolved. 3-techs need to be very athletic to compete in today’s NFL. Still I valued him way too low, he should have been an early 2nd round pick at the latest.

The Jets could also trade for Jarrett if Maccagnan is smart enough to consider it. The Falcons could franchise tag Jarrett and then trade him to the Jets. The Falcons like fast LB’s and the Jets could trade Darron Lee to the Falcons for Jarrett straight up as long as we can come to a contract extension before the trade. The Falcons have had serious injury problems with their ILB’s the last few years so another fast player could help. I am sure Dan Quinn thinks he could do a better job with Lee than Bowles did and I kind of agree with him.

The Falcons could sell the trade to their fan base as a trade of a 5th round pick for a 1st round pick with the cap savings as the cherry on top.

The Jets currently hold the 3rd pick in the NFL draft and many of us would like us to trade down to possibly get some needed offensive line help and some additional draft capital. I for one think an infusion of quality offensive line help is vital to the Jets and our new QB Sam Darnold.

But what if the Jets signed Grady Jarrett as a 3-tech and then used the 3rd pick in the draft to select Quinnen Williams from Alabama as the shade 1-tech. This would give the Jets a huge advantage on the inside and a push up the middle we have never had. I know it is not popular with the fan base but it would be a huge step in the right direction for our defense. Add to that a couple of FA’s like (take your pick of two) Jadeveon Clowney, Trey Flowers, Dante Fowler, DeMarcus Lawrence or Frank Clark. It would cost a mint but the Jets have the cash to do it and it would allow Maccagnan to use the rest of the picks on the offensive side of the ball.

Take it a step further the Jets could trade Lee and Williamson for picks, then sign Jordan Hicks to play the SAM and C. J. Mosley to play the Mike. I’m sure Greg Williams would not like a slow ILB like Williamson who is poor in coverage; I know PFF somehow has Avery as good in coverage but I disagree. They had him the same way when he was with the Titans. Williamson is great against the run but in coverage he is horrible. Hicks is one of the best tacklers and coverage LBs in the NFL. While the Jets are at it they could sign Ronald Darby to be the CB on the other side of Trumaine Johnson and they would have a really strong defense.

The only player who I can see who is like Jarrett in the draft is Renell Wren from Arizona State. He is a little taller (6’ 4”) but has a real quick first step and excellent length. He had a nice Senior Bowl but he wasn’t all that productive in college with only 15 TFL in 29 games. He is another guy who is under sized (295 lbs) for the inside but wins with quickness and technique. Wren is still learning his trade so he has a high ceiling as a player but also a basement as a floor. If players like this can’t win with quickness they have no shot at making it in the NFL. I have him currently as a mid 4th round selection. Grady Jarrett is a proven commodity and his best years are just ahead of him.

The Jets need offensive help for Sam, but they gave up 441 points last year (the second highest total in team history) so the defense needs help too. Also switching the defense from a base 3-4 to 4-3 will require a lot of moving parts. The Jets fortunately have the money to spend so let’s spend it wisely on play makers and remake the team.

Let me know what you think.

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