Thursday, April 02, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #56 - Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson - 6'1, 304 - Senior - 5.06 40
Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (95) runs drills during NCAA college football practice for the Senior Bowl, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (95) runs drills during NCAA college football practice for the Senior Bowl, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Yet another defensive tackle we wanted to take a look at appears to be an option at the defensive tackle spot known as the 1-technique.  Again, these terms sometimes are used frequently, but not always understood, but there is no reason that this should ever be confusing.  The 1-technique lines up on the inside shoulder of one guard while the 3-technique is on the outside shoulder of the other guard in the 4-3 defense.  So, when we talk about the 3-technique, we are talking about a guy who generally gets to go 1v1 with a guard, while the 1-technique is going to face the center/guard double team quite often in the A-Gap.  Sometimes, we need to make sure we find the right home for our Defensive Tackles.
So, this guy is often a man who can hold his ground and drop anchor as two large men are trying to plow him out of the way.  However, often the tradeoff for a man who can hold his spot against a G/C Double-team is that he is likely not quick and agile enough to penetrate into the backfield.  This is basically what the Cowboys have with their starting 1-technique from 2013-14, Nick Hayden - A hard worker who battles to stand his ground, but almost never gets in the often backfield.  This type of guy is important, but seemingly interchangeable.  You can find him in a lot of places, including the waiver wire, so you don't spend a lot in picks or cap space to acquire what amounts to a speed bump.  But, in the draft, you might find those rare birds who can stand their ground AND get into the backfield to wreak havoc.  Which brings us to the Clemson Tigers again, and Grady Jarrett.  Jarrett is a player with 29 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in his last 39 games.  To unfairly compare, Hayden has 6 tackles for loss and 0 sacks in his last 32 games.  He is not asked, nor expected to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.  To examine Jarrett, we looked at the North Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma games from this season.
Jarrett wears #50 in these clips:
What I liked:  When you talk about a player of Jarrett's size, you are hoping to see some movement skills because he is not big enough to drop anchor with the stoutness that you would hope.  We see that (look at this clip above!) where he dive bombs to the ball carrier and almost looks like a middle linebacker in the process.  Guys at that position are not supposed to be able to seek and destroy like that.  He is a very impressive bowling ball with that low center of gravity and quickness that is uncommon on the interior line.  He is agile and he plays through the whistle.  He seems to be able to deal with any man-up situation by merely using his "low man" techniques with twists and balance to work around him and gain a shoulder's advantage.  He is active and looking to penetrate into the backfield with routine, while also sniffing out screens and misdirection with a high Football IQ.  He competes his tail off.
What I did not like:  He is small with short arms.  He is as small as a defensive tackle could possibly be at 6'1, and also for being 304, he still does not seem to be as strong when the play is coming at him.  He gets walled off on zone runs and gets moving in the wrong direction.  He penetrates so quickly and decisively that often there is a big hole right from where he was that opens up a large running lane (against Georgia, this happened twice in a row).  I am concerned about how many downs he can give you as fatigue is going to be a factor and although I like him in many situations, I do wonder about how he would hold up in the middle of a line that is being attacked with power.  All of this indicates he is playing out of position and needs to bump over to that 3-tech to have a real opportunity to excel.
Summary:  He penetrates into the backfield and shoots gaps with the quickness that is uncommon amongst his peers.  That said, a team that has seen Nick Hayden stand tall when attacked with power may not be willing to go too far in this direction because to gain the penetration, you concede the stoutness at the point of attack.  Hayden may not be flashy, but he provides a service that you only notice when it is gone.  Now, is he a 3-technique at the next level and not a 1-tech at all?  His natural ability seems to say so, so let's consider a guy who might be interchangeable despite spending so much time at 1-tech at Clemson.  Jarrett is an absolute pleasure to watch and will flash for you several times a game with a quick get-off and slice right into the path of the rusher for a TFL, but I just wonder about the long-term size and ability to compete up with the big boys on Sundays as a regular.  As part of a rotation where I can cherry-pick his uses, I am very interested.  But, if he is a 2nd round pick, is that a luxury that the Cowboys can afford?  If he slides into the 3rd, I can absolutely see the fit here, but it is all going to be a matter of cost.  I love his positives, but the negatives give me pause about over-investing.  At the right price?  Sign me up.
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