It didn’t take Falcons rookie defensive tackle Grady Jarrett long to figure out that defensive line coach Bryan Cox is a little wacky.
“A little bit,” Jarrett said. “But you’ve got to be to play this game. One thing I can say about Coach Cox is that he loves the game of football. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Jarrett had worked out with Cox during the pre-draft process at the Falcons’ locals day and he received some more teachings from the teams’ energetic coach over the past three days during the rookie minicamp, which concluded on Sunday.
“He demands the best and he’s getting it out of everybody,” said Jarrett.
The fifth-round pick from Clemson and Rockdale County High in Conyers has already caught the wrath of Cox.
“Oh yes, absolutely,” Jarrett said. “That’s just making me a better player.”
Some draft analysts consider Jackson, 22, to be the steal of the draft. He was projected to go as high as the second-round.
“Quickness is his ally,” NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said. “When he’s on the move, he’s like a pinball in there. He’s bouncing off people, getting up the field and creating havoc.”
Jarrett has a downside.
“Where he gets in trouble is where he’s trying to hold the point and a big body gets on him,” Mayock said.
An old shoulder injury and whether if Jarrett was a scheme fit for some of the league’s two-gap schemes were factors in his descent into the fifth-round.
“The draft — that is a thing of the past,” Jarrett said. “You control what you can control.”
Landing in Atlanta cushioned the fall for Jarrett, who’s the son of former Falcons great Jessie Tuggle. Also, the Falcons selected his college teammate Vic Beasley with the eighth overall pick in the first round of the draft.
They helped each other get through their first team meetings and practices as professionals.
“It’s definitely good having Vic here with me,” Jarrett said. “We are both just excited to be a part of this organization both being from Georgia. … We want to look at how far we can take this thing.”
The hard-working Jarrett made a good impression during the rookie minicamp.
“Ironically, he was one of the guys who showed up yesterday,” head coach Dan Quinn said on Saturday. “It’s no surprise that he put two back to back days together. It’s the first time experiencing what am I supposed to do? How am I doing it?”
Tuggle, who played at Valdosta State and made the Falcons as an undrafted rookie, played from 1987 to 2000 and was known as “The Hammer. He went to the Pro Bowl five times and played in Super Bowl XXXIII.
Also, Jarrett calls former Baltimore Ravens great Ray Lewis, a friend of the family, “Uncle Ray.” He’s not a biological member of the family, but Jarrett has known him since he was 5.
Both were in touch immediately after Jarrett was drafted by the Falcons.
“He was the one to read my name off on the card at the event he was at,” Jarrett said. “He thought it was a joke. It just couldn’t have been a better place or a better time for me.”
Lewis was ecstatic for Jarrett.
“He told me that he was so proud of me,” Jarrett said. “I’m just super fortunate to have him in my life.”
Jarrett said that both Tuggle and Lewis have had an impact on him. They’ve help motivate him and taught him how to set goals.
“It’s just a dream come true being out there in Flowery Branch at the Atlanta Falcons facilities,” Jarrett said. “I just couldn’t be in a better situation. I’m just so excited to be out here.”
Jarrett’s draft day was a little bizarre as part of his childhood home in Conyers caught fire. Everybody escaped safely.
The family is starting to recover from the traumatic event.
“It was definitely a difficult situation,” Jackson said. “But we are going to be alright. …Everybody was safe and that was the most important thing. Any of the material things we can replace, other than that, our focus, we’re moving on. We’re doing the best that we can right now.”
Also, Jarrett was one of five rookies to sign their contracts. Beasley and third-round pick Tevin Coleman are expected to sign soon.
“It’s really comforting to have that done,” Jarrett said.
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Credit: Clayton County Police Department