(Editor’s Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today’s featured player is Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin).
Name: Zack Martin
Position: Offensive Tackle
College: Notre Dame
Honors: Martin was named a team captain his final two seasons and helped pave the way as the starting left tackle for the Irish to reach the BCS national championship game in 2012. He was named the MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl in 2013 and was on the Lombardi Award Watch List and Outland Trophy Watch List beginning all the way back in 2011.
Key stat: The Notre Dame lineman started all 52 games from 2010 to 2013, primarily as the left tackle, setting a new team record among offensive linemen. Despite his stability on the left side of the line for the Irish, some believe he still has the ability to bump inside at the next level.
Where He’s Projected: Some scouts worry about Martin’s length as an outside offensive lineman in the NFL, which may cause him to shift inside to guard, where he’s not accustomed to playing. But Martin displayed his versatility during Senior Bowl week and is widely regarded as a first-round pick, whether that be at guard or tackle. The two-time captain was clearly well regarded by his school. His athleticism makes him intriguing, and putting up 29 bench reps should help those who questioned his strength.
How He Helps the Cowboys: While the focus heading into this draft and free agency will undoubtedly be on the other side of the line, the Cowboys could still use some help and depth on the inside of their offensive line. The upside with Martin is he has the flexibility to be used inside or outside. If the Cowboys want him to play guard, they can utilize him there until they believe he’s ready to take on the best pass rushers in the game as an offensive tackle.
Scout’s Take: I had not had much exposure of Zack Martin before he showed up at the Senior Bowl but by the time I had left Mobile, I knew he was a player that was going to be on my radar. At 6-4, 308 pounds, he is a square built player that when you watch him move, he is effortless. There is little wasted motion in his run blocking as he comes off the line and gets into his man. He is a flat back player that when he gets his hands inside and begins to push can get some movement. Easy on the cut off or reach blocks. Doesn’t play like those traditional Notre Dame offensive linemen that are heavy footed and struggle to get into position on their blocks and finish. It was rare to see him off his feet. When he gets his hands on the defender, he can maintain his sustain. Initially quick on his pass set and adjustment, don’t see him
overextended or reaching for his man. His feet and hands work very well together. There is power in his punch and shock when he delivers the blow. Doesn’t look uncomfortable at all when the rusher tries to take him up the field. Will kick for width, punch, then sit down. Able to mirror and adjust easily. Played left tackle at Notre Dame and from what I have seen from his work at the Senior Bowl and on tape, that would not be a stretch in the NFL. For the Cowboys, I would project him to play guard initially, then move to right tackle in time. At guard in the Senior Bowl, he received plenty of work against Aaron Donald and fought him to a draw where no guard could handle him during the practices. At the Combine, Martin even referenced what a battle it was to work against Donald and what he gained from that experience. Depending on what direction this draft goes, it would not be hard for me at all to consider him for the 16th selection for this team because of all the traits he has. – Bryan Broaddus