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Cowboys See More Than Just A "Safe Pick" In Martin


IRVING, Texas – If the football world was losing its mind about the Cowboys' No. 16 pick on Thursday night, Zack Martin certainly didn't know about it.

As Cowboys executives frantically considered their options and fans at Radio City Music Hall chanted for Johnny Manziel, the team's eventual first round pick was watching from his home in Indianapolis, Indiana – a world away from the draft day chaos.

"I was actually up in my parents' bedroom with my parents and my two brothers, so it was really quiet up there," Martin said.

Not that Martin didn't have the chance to revel in the glitz and glamour of Draft Day in New York City. The Notre Dame standout was invited to attend the first round and sport his new team's jersey at Radio City on Thursday night, but he opted instead for a more familiar environment.

"I did get invited and I decided to stay home," Martin said. "I wanted to be with family and friends and you can't take them all to New York, so I wanted to stay home with them."

That's bound to sound familiar for anyone who thinks back to just last April, when the Cowboys made another Midwestern mauler – Travis Frederick – their first-round pick. Just like Martin, the Wisconsin center was watching the proceedings from home with his family.

Photos of the Cowboys' 2014 first round draft pick, OT Zack Martin (Round 1, Pick 16).

"It's been kind of a crazy evening for me -- just sitting here watching the draft with my family and some friends," Frederick said at this time last year.

That's not likely a coincidence, as Martin mirrors Frederick in more than just his draft-viewing preferences. Martin comes to the Cowboys having started a Notre Dame-record 52 games, and he has experience playing all over the offensive line.

"People believe he can play center – a lot of people argue he can play all five spots on the offensive line," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "Initially we'll give him a chance to work inside as an offensive guard and see how he holds up there."

The decision to pick Martin has to make Garrett especially happy, given his desire to draft "the right kind of guy." A versatile four-year starter who skipped the NFL draft to be with his family sounds right up Garrett's alley.

"He just said 'Congratulations, you're the type of guy we want on this team and get ready to go to work,'" Martin said of Garrett. "I'm ready to go down there and start competing."

True to those words, don't write off Martin's impact because of the low key nature of the pick. The common catchphrase surrounding Martin is that he's one of this draft's "safest" selections. In explaining the reasoning for the pick in the team's Thursday night press conference, Garrett dispelled that notion emphatically.

"Someone made a reference that he's one of the safest picks of the draft, and that's certainly a compliment, but we don't necessarily see him as a safe player," he said. "We see him as a damn good football player who has a track record to show it and has a lot of attributes in the players that we want."

Martin clearly agreed, showcasing a competitive nature that belied the very nature of his pick. Speaking to the assembled media Thursday night from his home, Martin expressed his desire to step in and play right away – just like Frederick before him.


"I'm looking to come in here and compete and I want to come in there and compete from day one," he said. "So obviously I want to come in there and be on the field and help the team win. So, yeah, that's my goal."

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