(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 North Carolina’s Kareem Martin.)
Name: Kareem Martin
Position: Defensive End
College: North Carolina
Honors: Martin was named first-team All-ACC last season and went into the year named to the preseason All-ACC team. He was on the 2013 Hendricks Award watch list, Bednarik Award watch list and Nagurski Trophy watch list.
Key stat: Martin finished the regular season last year with 11 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, with arguably his best game coming against Aaron Donald’s team – he had eight tackles, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery against Pittsburgh.
Where He’s Projected: Most project Martin to be a second or third round pick. He’s a rather clear-cut 4-3 defensive end, unlike many of the “tweener” pass-rushers in this year’s draft. He didn’t overwhelm anyone at the Senior Bowl, but his college production and massive 6-6 frame could land him with a team in the second round.
How He Helps the Cowboys: One could argue defensive end is the Cowboys’ biggest area of need, and there’s no question about where Dallas would plug in Martin. He’s a 4-3 defensive end through and through, and given his gigantic frame, if he can develop his skills as a pass rusher off the edge, he could end up being a force on the outside. He’ll need to develop more consistency at the next level. He had huge games, including the aforementioned one against Pitt. He also had some quiet ones where he lacked explosiveness off the snap, totaling three tackles with no sacks against Virginia and five tackles with no sacks against South Carolina. All in all, though, he was tremendously productive his senior year, earning a trip to the Senior Bowl, and he’d fill an area of need in Dallas.
Scout’s Take – Bryan Broaddus: The first thing you notice about Martin on tape is his build. He sas some length to him, rangy build. Plays as the weak side end mainly, but you will see him line up on the strong side and even at defensive tackle. He’ll retrace his steps when he gets up the field and the play comes back underneath. Have seen some snaps where he got washed down inside and didn’t hold the point well enough. Doesn’t always play strong or stout. He can slant hard down inside and be disruptive. Will spin back inside to start his rush. He was able to split double team to get a pressure, but will get stuck on blocks when he rushes down the middle. When he can get the edge, he is at his best. When he wins on that first step, he does his best work.
I’d like to see him play with more of a sense of urgency at times. There are hot and cold snaps. When he wants to, he can be a problem to block. He showed the ability to beat down block by the tight end. He was able to get across the face and get in on tackle. He’ll tease you with his ability to play with power and got some push with one arm up the field. Not much initial quickness. Long strider when he chases the ball. The wider he gets, the better chance that he has to rush. I’d like to see him turn the corner better and with some sharpness. He can run well once he gets going. He’s able to keep balance, fight down line and work his hands inside. He’s quick off the ground when cut and can work backdoor on blocks. Martin had a tackle for loss against Miami this way.
He can lean on blockers and get push. He’ll work off then chase. Martin’s able to play off block to make the tackle on reverse. His length helps him in rush. He has to be careful if he gets too high and gets moved. Needs to keep pads down. He can chase the ball when he sees it – showed a burst. Had a sack against Boston College by going hard up field, then quick retrace. He’ll use his hands to yank blockers off balance. There are times where he is in position but needs to finish the play. Awareness for the screen, not fooled. Has an NFL type of body for the position. Flashes the traits that good defensive ends play with. He could be a consideration in the second round but would most likely go in the third round.