Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Notre Dame Fighting Irish former football players Zack Martin (left) and Chris Watt run a drill during Notre Dame pro day. (Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)
Thursday, May 8 at 11:19 PM
IRVING, TX - The pressure was on in the Cowboys' draft room when their pick at No. 16 overall came up Thursday night, especially with QB Johnny Manziel still on the board. But instead of selecting a quarterback, they chose Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin to continue the rebuilding of their offensive line.
Martin will forever be known as the player the Cowboys took in the first round instead of Manziel.
“I can live with that," Martin said from his home in Indianapolis.
It was also the second-straight draft the Cowboys have taken an offensive lineman with their first pick in the first round. Last year, Dallas took center Travis Frederick from Wisconsin.
"It means everything," Martin said. "I couldn't be happier to come down to Dallas and part of this great organization. I'm very excited to come down there and start competing and be a part of the team."
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told Martin that he was the type of guy Dallas wants on this team.
"Get ready to go work," Garrett told Martin.
Martin was a two-time captain for the Irish and became the longest-tenured starter in the history of Notre Dame football.
During his career, Martin played 52 games with the first unit. In each of his four seasons in the lineup, Notre Dame won a minimum of eight games. The Irish held a 37-15 record during his time as a starter.
Before the draft, Martin said the Cowboys talked to him about different positions. He was a tackle at Notre Dame, but confirmed that the Cowboys spoke to him about playing guard.
"I told them I'm willing to play anything and do anything they need me to do to help this team," Martin said. "That's what I'm willing to do."
Martin got his first taste of AT&T Stadium back on Oct. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame played Arizona State, a game the Irish won 37-34.
"I've never seen anything like that before, just how big the Jumbotron and all that stuff is," he said. "I can't wait to play in it again."
Martin said it did cross his mind that he wouldn't mind playing in Arlington again. “Absolutely! Yeah, after visiting down there and seeing it again, to think I could be playing there again, it was pretty special."
Martin will be blocking for quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray.
"I'm looking forward to blocking for those guys," the Cowboys' pick said. "I can't wait to learn under those veterans and learn how to be a pro and go into battle with them each week."