Cowboys first round pick Zack Martin steps into a peculiar situation for a 16th-overall selection in the NFL draft.
Martin made 39 starts at offensive tackle for Notre Dame over 52 games, the longest tenure in Fighting Irish program history, but it is unsure where exactly he’ll play at the next level. Head coach Jason Garrett said Martin will most likely begin his Cowboys career as a guard on the interior offensive line, but which side he lines up on is undecided.
“I know they’ll let me know when the time comes,” Martin said in Saturday’s press conference with the media at Valley Ranch. “Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll be willing to do it.”
Martin opened a lot of eyes with his performance at guard in the Senior Bowl.
“A lot of drill work we did at Notre Dame was about playing offensive line, not just a specific position. Besides playing in space, the techniques are not that much different,” he said of the transition inside. “You’re using your hands the same way and you’re going to come off the ball the same way, so it was a pretty easy transition.”
Garrett has labeled Martin a “five-position player,” capable of playing any of the spots along the offensive line. Martin snapped for some teams at Notre Dame’s March 20 Pro Day.
Martin is the third offensive lineman the Cowboys have drafted in the first round over the last four years. Tyron Smith was the team’s first pick (9th overall) in 2011, and Travis Frederick came off the board to Dallas in the first round of the 2013 draft (31st overall).
And yet, Martin is the oldest of the three. He said his mom had him look up some of the offensive linemen on the Cowboys’ roster, including Smith and Frederick, Friday.
“I looked at their birthdays and saw that I was older than both of them,” he said. “That’s a little weird.”
Martin is 22 days older than Smith, and 118 days older than Frederick.
“It’s already a great group. It’s going to be fun to play with some guys that are younger too,” he said.
Martin has watched Tyron Smith, who plays the same position Martin played at Notre Dame, left tackle, a lot. “He’s unbelievable, really fun to watch,” he said.
Something completely out of Martin’s control is the fact that he will always be the player Dallas chose instead of Johnny Football. On Thursday he said he “can live up to that” in his NFL career.
“I think I can do a lot for this team. I think I can help this team a lot. To tell you the truth, I really haven’t thought about that whole comparison really at all,” he elaborated Saturday.
A popular question about Johnny Manziel is his durability at the next level. That won’t likely be an issue with Martin, who hasn’t missed a football game since he had mono in high school. He said the best part about his 52-consecutive-game streak in college is the fact that his team can rely on him week in and week out.
“My teammates knew I was going to be out there every week,” Martin said. “They knew I was going to be doing my job and they could count on me being on the field.”