Draft Focus: Zack Martin

Draft Focus: Zack Martin

Credit: Getty Images

Zack Martin #70 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish blocks against Geneo Grissom #85 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the game at Notre Dame Stadium on September 28, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. Oklahoma won 35-21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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by ANDREW TOBOLOWSKY

WFAA Sports

Posted on March 30, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Updated Thursday, May 8 at 9:18 PM

Position: Offensive tackle

College: Notre Dame

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 308 lbs

Experience:  Redshirt Senior

While most experts expect Dallas to look for help on the defensive side of the ball—which, considering that it was the worst defense I’ve ever seen and recently lost DeMarcus Ware—getting more depth in the offensive line is, in my opinion, crucial for them. An offense with Romo, Dez, Witten and the emerging DeMarco Murray, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, and Terrance Williams should not be 14th in passing yards and 24th in rushing yards per game. Sure, they have to address weaknesses in the draft, but making sure a strength is really a strength is also important.

The essentials

Martin was a four-year starter at Notre Dame, voted the top offensive lineman at Notre Dame three years in a row, and was a two-time team captain. Perhaps more relevantly for the Cowboys, he was a second team All-American last year. At the NFL level, he’ll likely be a guard, but he’s one of the best pass protectors in the college game, with good technique and a good base. He pulls well, changes direction well, and uses his hands well. The Cowboys will have to really want this guy to get him, as he is projected to go in the early second or even first round, and it’s not clear that they consider offensive line a position of need. CBS sports has him ranked as high as No. 12 among prospects, but he’s also ranked fourth best at his position, so it’s pretty likely he won’t go quite that high.

Why he’s a good fit for the Cowboys

I have an obsession with drafting offensive tackles because I’ve spent more than half a decade wondering what a Romo-led offense could look like if the guy ever had any time in the pocket. There were times last year when it wasn’t bad and there have been times when you could say the same in previous years, but it seems like, inevitably, injuries reach a point where it becomes bad and that really makes the difference in the Cowboys’ long string of near misses.

Last year of course, the Cowboys did draft an O-lineman, center Travis Frederick, but a lot of people felt they probably shouldn’t have. Nobody quibbled with whether or not they had drafted a decent player at a need position, but given where Frederick was going off most mock boards, they likely could have had him the second round and taken somebody like Sharif Floyd with the pick they had before they traded down. Still, Frederick and Tyron Smith are two guys who could really be the start of a great pass protection unit and building on that can only help. The O-Line is like a top defensive center in basketball—it’s not glamorous, but it makes everyone on the field better. Watch how solid Martin is here:

He doesn't possess tremendous athleticism, but you can see a quick burst out of the snap to seal off blocks on the interior line -- an skill that will be emphasized should Martin make the switch to guard at the next level. And while the Cowboys' offensive line was much improved last season, there is room for an upgrade at guard, a position currently held by Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary without much depth behind them.

Knowing his game

In a Rosterwatch.com interview with Alex Dunlap, Martin had this to say about himself:

“I think that I’m most comfortable at tackle, I’ve played that my entire career so I think I can play it at a high level but I think one of the strengths of my game is my versality and I think I can kick in and play really any position on the offensive line so…I think I’m pretty good in space…I like to be physical, and at guard you have to be physical, so that’s definitely a positive”

Summary

Martin projects as a guy with a long career ahead of him, at a position that I think is a Cowboys need. However, again, it’s not overly likely that the Cowboys will spend a first-round pick on the offensive line for the second year in a row. He would likely -although not certainly - be available at 16, but the safe bet is he’s going elsewhere.

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