In a draft class chock full of offensive linemen, Notre Dame’s Zack Martin is doing his best to stand out among the competition.
The future NFL offensive tackle impressed scouts during the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Al. earlier this month, and his draft stock is on the rise as a result. NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock, who also calls games for Notre Dame during the season, made it a point to say how much Martin wowed him, saying he was a better prospect that he originally thought.
Todd McShay of ESPN Scouts Inc. had a similar reaction. In his Senior Bowl write-up, he explained Martin made major strides during his senior season with the Fighting Irish and it was evident during the practices and Saturday’s game.
Martin has been projected to be a first round-caliber prospect for a while, but his Senior Bowl performance allowed scouts to view his versatility in full effect. They were impressed by his natural competitiveness, his ability to absorb blockers and use his quick feet to slow down speed rushers. He even has the skill-set to play guard, should a team have a greater need at that position.
The knock on Martin is his short arms, though a similar question surrounding Justin Pugh didn’t stop the New York Giants from selecting him in the first round a year ago. Because of the arm length, Martin could wind up sliding over to guard. His height could also force him to the interior of the line.
Martin is listed as the No. 12 and 17 prospect overall by CBS Sports and Mel Kiper Jr., respectively, both rankings pin him as the fourth-best offensive tackle behind Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson, and Taylor Lewan. He landed in the No. 19 spot by ESPN Scouts Inc.’s post-Senior Bowl rankings.
Guard or tackle, Martin is seemingly destined to land somewhere in the first round this May. And because of his rising stock, newer mock drafts project him to land as soon as No. 12 overall to the Giants. Last year, the G-Men picked Pugh to assume right tackle duties opposite of Will Beatty. But Beatty struggled mightily last year after receiving a big extension, and perhaps the veteran’s future could be in jeopardy. Drafting Martin could allow Pugh to move over to left tackle or allow the rookie to sure up the middle of the line right away.
The Miami Dolphins are definitely in the market for a tackle, so they’ll have to see who is available when they’re on the clock with the No. 19 pick. Given the recent Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin controversy, a high-character player like Zach Martin is even more intriguing.
Should Miami opt for a different player, the Arizona Cardinals could nab Martin a pick later at No. 20. The Cards must address the position with both of their tackles heading toward free agency. Beyond Arizona, both the San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, and New Orleans Saints could be landing spots in the first round.