Clemson’s Grady Jarrett is one of the top defensive tackle prospects in this year’s draft, and yet, all some people want to focus on is his size. At 6-1, Jarrett is certainly not the tallest of tackles, but at 304 pounds, he is a compact ball of power with great burst.
So what does he say to people who doubt him because of his height? Not a whole lot, apparently. Instead, he lets his play do the talking.
“Hey man, I just control what I can control,” Jarrett said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I work with what God gave me and I maximize it. I just find out how to use my size and my stature to my advantage, and it worked out well for me. I have a little extra chip on my shoulder, so I play hard. I understand leverage and pad level. It helps me and I use it to my advantage. But yeah, just maximizing my build and just being a physical football player.”
Jarrett said he knew as early as middle school that he had a chance to play in the NFL.
“I just always watched and I knew (it) was something I could do,” he said. “It was funny because I always would kind of doubt myself – like in seventh grade going against the eight graders, but then I would do it and be good. In my ninth grade year, (I thought) ain’t no way I’m going to be able to play varsity with these dudes, and then I go out there and be one of the best players on the team in the ninth grade. So I was like, man, I know I can really do this. I just need the opportunity to get into college.’ That’s what I got.”
Jarrett played as a freshman at Clemson and started as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“It’s just been hard work and a lot of self-believing and overcoming that inner struggle that you got to deal with,” he said. “Just conquering that and keep on moving forward.”
Jarrett, a state wrestling champion in high school, said he’s comfortable in both a 4-3 and a 3-4, whether it’s attacking with stunts or attacking straight upfield. Whatever it takes to cause disruption in the backfield, he’ll do it.
“That’s what I’m built for,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life and what I had the most success with.”
Some draft experts are comparing Jarrett to Geno Atkins, an undersized defensive tackle who’s been to three Pro Bowls with the Cincinnati Bengals. It feels good for Jarrett to hear that, of course, but he doesn’t need affirmation to feel confident in his future.
“I don’t doubt that I’m going to make it,” he said. “It’s just proving to people. They make a lot out of the size discussion, but I believe in myself wholeheartedly – even if I was going to be the first guy to play defensive tackle at 6-1. Having guys like (Atkins) before me, it’s just confirmation. People put a lot into the size thing, but if you can make plays, you can make plays, and you control what you can control.”
Jarrett was also asked about his college teammate, linebacker Vic Beasley, who is expected to be, at worst, a top-10 pick.
“I’m thinking top-five, praying for top-five for him,” Jarrett said. “He’s good enough to do that. Vic’s a beast, man. He’s a beast. He’s a freak of nature, and he’s hungry. Wherever he ends up is going to be good for him. Whatever position they end up putting him, he’s going to excel. He’s gifted at rushing the passer.”