FLOWERY BRANCH — New Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett had a major scare while he waited for his name to be called in the NFL draft Friday night.
Jarrett, picked by Atlanta in the fifth round Saturday, said he and about 40 family members and close friends were at his mother's house in Conyers, Georgia, about 23 miles east of downtown Atlanta, when it caught fire in the early evening.
"We were just watching the draft and smelled something a little funny," Jarrett said "We went in the kitchen. There was nothing going on in there, then some people came running downstairs, and the fire had already started on the wall."
Jarrett said he was "100 percent certain" that nobody was injured. He added that the Rockdale County Fire Department extinguished the fire, which burned down about half of the house.
"There was too much fire for water or a fire extinguisher to put it out," he said. "We couldn't do anything but get everybody out of the house and pray for the best. That section of the house is totally messed up."
Jarrett, who starred at Clemson, grew up in the house that he's called home off Bonds Lake Road for 20 years. He said many of his belongings were destroyed in the blaze.
The Falcons traded up eight spots to select Jarrett to get the first pick of the fifth round. Spokesman Brian Cearns said the team did not know about the fire until after Jarrett was drafted.
Jarrett teamed with pass rusher Vic Beasley, whom Atlanta selected with the No. 8 overall pick Thursday, during the last four years at Clemson.
The Falcons dealt the Minnesota Vikings a fifth- and sixth-round pick to acquire the top spot of the fifth round.
Improving quarterback pressure has been the top priority of new coach Dan Quinn. Atlanta's defense allowed the highest combined passer rating over the last two years under his predecessor, Mike Smith.
Quinn and the Falcons upgraded their coverage in Friday's second round by picking LSU cornerback Jalen Collins.
Jarrett said he has grew up in the house, which belongs to his mother, Elisha Jarrett. He is also the son of former Falcons star linebacker Jessie Tuggle.
Jarrett had 29 1/2 career tackles for minus yardage and 37 quarterback pressures at Clemson.
He said the Falcons promised to send clothing to the family.