Summary: If Martin came out after his junior season, he probably would have been a second-day pick. Martin broke into the lineup as a sophomore for the Fighting Irish. He steadily improved his play and enjoyed a good season as a junior when Notre Dame went to the National Championship game against Alabama.
Martin finished 2013 strongly for an impressive senior season. He was very good in pass protection with an advanced ability to adjust against blitzers off the edge. Martin also did well in the ground game. Late in the season, he shut down the nation’s leader in sacks, Stanford’s Trent Murphy, and was absolutely dominant in his collegiate finale against Rutgers.
Martin was the best offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl. He continued to get the better of Murphy and did a superb job as an edge blocker in the one-on-ones. While Martin’s short arms (32 1/4) were exposed at the weigh-in, he showed that he has the quickness and agility to mirror speed rushers. Martin also is strong for his size with the ability to anchor against bull rushers.
Some teams project Martin to moving inside to guard in the NFL, but with the way he handled edge rushers at the Senior Bowl, he gave plenty of evidence that he can stay at tackle. In this writer’s opinion, Martin would be undersized for guard in the NFL, so he could struggle with the size and power of some defensive tackles. Martin did a lot better in the one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl at left tackle than when he moved inside and went against defensive tackles. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota’s big, strong defensive tackle, gave Martin some issues.
Martin is a natural on the edge and looks like a tackle who you can trust, especially when considering that many teams are trending toward smaller speed rushers like Denver’s Von Miller or Seattle’s Bruce Irvin. Martin has great technique to battle speed rushers. He has quick feet to mirror and has excellent knee bend. That allows him to anchor against bull rushers and cut off moves to the inside. Martin’s pass protection looks ready for the next level.
Martin is undersized, but he is strong for his size. In college, Martin was able to get movement from defenders in the ground game, plus he operates well on zone runs. NFL teams that run a zone scheme should really like the potential for Martin to step in and play quickly.
With his success late in the season and at the Senior Bowl, Martin looks like he has a serious shot of going in the back half of the first round.
Player Comparison: Sam Baker. As a prospect, Martin is almost identical to Justin Pugh, who was selected in the first round last year by the Giants. That doesn’t provide a good point for comparison; Pugh hasn’t been in the NFL long enough to provide a decent metric.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Martin turns into a better version of Sam Baker. The Falcons veteran has had some solid play during his career, while also dealing with injuries and some underwhelming stretches. Baker turned in a quality 2012 seasons protecting Matt Ryan.
Martin is nearly identical in size to Baker (6-5, 301) and both players have short arms. Martin should be able to overcome his size and length weaknesses to turn into a player who is similar to, but better than, Baker. That would be a nice value selection for a team as a late-first-round or second-round pick.
NFL Matches: Arizona, Miami, San Diego, Carolina, Seattle, Houston
There are a number of teams that could consider Martin in the back half of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. At the end of the top 20, both the Cardinals and Dolphins are searching for long-term answers at left tackle. Martin fits the player profile that Miami general manager Dennis Hickey aims for.
The Chargers got surprisingly good play out of King Dunlap last season, but they still could aim to land a long-term solution for their blind-side protector for Philip Rivers.
Carolina also needs a long-term left tackle to protect its franchise quarterback. Jordan Gross is nearing the end of the line, and Martin could be a nice fit as Cam Newton’s protector in the prime of his career.
The Seahawks could use a revamped right side of their offensive line. Martin could come in and play right tackle for Seattle. Houston also needs more competition at right tackle, and if Martin falls to the second round, the Texans could scoop him up.
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