Notre Dame OT Zack Martin Helping Draft Stock With Strong Senior Bowl Practices

By Rick Stavig
Zack Martin
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot of talented guys at the 2014 Senior Bowl.  By the end of this week, millions of dollars will have been won and lost by prospects who either help or hurt their 2014 NFL Draft stock depending on how well they perform this week.  One guy who seems to be helping himself out is Notre Dame OT Zack Martin.

Prior to and throughout most of his senior season in South Bend, Martin was viewed as a 3rd to 4th round prospect, and mainly because of his size.  At just about 6-foot 4, 305-pounds, Martin doesn’t have an ideal frame, and has relatively short arms (32.25 inch arm length).

Now that Senior Bowl practices are underway and we’ve gone through the measurement process, Martin is looking better and better to scouts.  No, he hasn’t gotten taller or stretched his arms, but he’s been an absolute rock so far, just like he’s been throughout his entire career.  Particularly impressive was when he was stonewalling Stanford OLB/DE Trent Murphy (a potential first round pick) in drills.

If he was 6-foot 6, he’d be a top-10 pick.  Size is a major stigma for some teams to get over when evaluating a player. They think an OT with short arms won’t be able to hold up with long edge rushers.  Does it help to have longer arms at OT?  Of course it does.  Simply enough, if your arms are longer than your opponents, then you can keep them, and their hands, away from your body when extended, making it much more difficult for them to get by you en route to the QB.  But it’s not a requirement, and it’s not like you can’t perform the job as well as anyone else just because your arms are an inch shorter than you’d like.

That’s why this Senior Bowl practice week is so important to a player like Martin.  He’s going to be going against long and powerful edge rushers all week in practices and during the game on Saturday.  If he keeps playing like this, he could work himself up to a mid-1st round pick.  He’s been reminding many people of Justin Pugh, an OT from Syracuse last year who had similar concerns about size and arm length prior to the Senior Bowl.  However, he had an excellent week of practices and played well in the game, and ultimately went 19th overall to the New York Giants.

What are my thoughts on him as a prospect and what his pro potential?  There’s an awful lot to like of him, but the thing I like most about him is his versatility.  I think he could be as good, if not even better, at OG in the NFL as at OT.  Think about the teams that have multiple holes in their offensive lines; NY Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, etc.  And those are just the teams picking in the middle of the rounds.  If you have a hole at both OT and OG, Martin would be a perfect fit.  Even if he’s not necessarily starting at either one of those positions out of the gate, he’ll improve the depth of both positions at the minimum.

Rick Stavig is an NFL Draft Columnist for Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on Google+.


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