Summary: Martin has started 37 of 39 games at left tackle over the past three seasons at Stanford. He has done a very good job of protecting the blind side of superstar quarterback Andrew Luck. Without the quality and reliable protection from Martin, Luck would not have been able to produce as well at the college level. Martin is a consistent blocker who can serve as a protector for a franchise quarterback in the NFL.
Martin struggled with speed rushers during his collegiate career at times, and in the NFL, he is going to need to work on mirroring edge rushers. For that reason, some believe that Martin may be better off at right tackle. Another route to consider would be for Martin to be brought along at right tackle for a year or two before moving over to the left side. He is a good athlete who has quick enough feet to be developed into a strong pass protector on the left side. He just needs more grooming and development. If Martin goes to a team with a good offensive line coach, he could turn into a special player.
While Martin is entering the NFL as a quality pass blocker, his biggest strength is in the ground game. Martin is a pure road-grader as a run blocker, and Stanford has had a ton of success running behind him the past three seasons. The Cardinal powered down the field behind the left side with right guard David DeCastro pulling around to seal holes with Martin. Stanford averaged 213.8 yards on the ground in 2010 and 208 yards per game in 2011. Martin has the power to grab defensive ends and ride them out of the play. He also has the athleticism and quickness to hit blocks on the second level. Martin laid out a lot of linebackers and defensive backs over his collegiate career. Unlike many left tackles who are tap dancers and don’t have the power to knock defenders off the line of scrimmage, he is going to be an asset as a run blocker in the NFL.
Player Comparison: Jordan Gross. Gross has been a reliable left tackle since entering the league in 2003. The Panthers selected Gross with the eighth-overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Gross is not one of the NFL’s elite pass protectors, but he is reliable. He also is one of the better run-blocking left tackles in the league. The Panthers have had some potent ground attacks throughout Gross’ career. Gross made the Pro Bowl in 2009.
Martin’s game is similar to Gross’ as far as his run blocking and pass blocking. Like Gross, Martin could go in the same general area of the draft. Martin could be a top-10 pick and should go in the top 20.
NFL Matches: Miami, Carolina, Arizona, Kansas City, San Diego, Chicago
Martin could go at No. 8 or 9 to the Dolphins or Panthers. Miami needs a right tackle, and Martin would make a great bookend with Jake Long. The Panthers have to find a replacement for Gross in the next few years, and this may be the last year for them to have a shot at a tackle that is worth a high first-round pick. The Cardinals have needed tackle help for years and are definitely an option for Martin.
Kansas City right tackle Barry Richardson was a serious weakness in 2011. If the Chiefs draft Martin, they could play him at right tackle or move Brandon Albert to right tackle with Martin on the left side. The Chargers need tackle help, but have been hesitant to draft a tackle highly. If Martin makes it to Chicago at 19, that would be an easy pick for the Bears as they badly need a left tackle.
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