|Class:||RS Senior||40 time:||N/A|
During the entire process thus far leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin has sat in the background while less experienced prospects such as Cyrus Kouandjio, Greg Robinson and David Yankey have been gushed over by draftniks. However, with the fantastic performance that the fifth-year senior delivered in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Rutgers and everything he’s done this week during Senior Bowl practices, Martin finally seems to be starting to get the respect that he deserves.
Martin has been a steady presence for the Irish at left tackle for the majority of the past four years, saving for two games he started at right tackle during his first season of action. When examining Martin’s tape, there are two things that really stand out about him. Most importantly, he very rarely gets beat or even looks to have trouble handling defenders. His technique is nearly flawless, and it has been hard for any defense to find a way to expose him.
Secondly, Martin has a whole lot of natural strength and knows exactly how to take full advantage of it. His stance is just about perfect, and he stays low when he explodes out of it. He uses his leverage very well and he frequently runs over defenders in all areas of the field.
The biggest source of controversy for Martin comes with his measurements. At just over 6-foot-4 with shorter-than-normal arms, many NFL evaluators believe that Martin is a better fit at guard than tackle as a pro. While his status as a guard may make his draft stock a bit lower than it would be if he were a tackle with perfect dimensions, his versatility will certainly make him valuable to whatever team drafts him.
Notre Dame color commentator Mike Mayock remarked earlier this week on the NFL Network that he thought Martin could play at a high level at all five offensive line positions. While the notion of Martin perhaps playing center may seem odd, it actually does make quite a bit of sense. The position is in the bloodlines with Martin’s younger brother playing the position at Notre Dame, and as an experienced player who is by all accounts very intelligent, it might be interesting to see how he can do at a position where his size is ideal.
First and foremost, though, he should be an overpowering guard for years to come. As things stand now, I believe that Martin is the best guard prospect in the draft class. In my most recent mock draft, I had him going to the Buffalo Bills with the ninth pick of the second round. However, with the success that he has experienced in Mobile this week, I would think that the chances are greater than not that Martin is able to work himself into the latter part of the first round.
- Exceptionally consistent overall; very rarely gets beaten
- Obvious strength and a high amount of aggressiveness; has the potential to be a legitimate road grader
- Very good arm extension on pass blocks
- Works well on angle blocks
- Quick feet
- Fast, aggressive punch
- Good at kicking edge rushers out of the play
- Explodes well out of both a two-point and three-point stance and does not waste any potential power
- Four full years of starting experience
- Will provide the versatility to play tackle, guard, and possibly even center
- Doesn’t always sustain blocks to the whistle
- Change-of-direction and lateral movement skills are not great
- Height is not ideal for an offensive tackle at the NFL level
- Short arms; his 32 and 1/4-inch arms were the shortest for any non-center among the offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl
Though Notre Dame only had the nation’s 63rd-ranked offense, Martin had a very successful year and started every game. Arguably his most impressive performance came in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Rutgers, where he came unleashed in the second half and helped lead the Irish to four scoring drives.
2014 Draft Projection: First round