IRVING, Texas – The narrative has already been written about newest Cowboy Zack Martin as the smart, safe alternative to the flashy Johnny Manziel.
In the hoopla surrounding the Cowboys' draft night decision-making, though, it seems an important bit of information fell by the wayside. The newest first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, the most high-profile team in the NFL, is entering the professional ranks from Notre Dame – arguably the most high-profile college program in the country.
Martin's college coach, Notre Dame's Chip Kelly, joined 103.3 ESPN Radio in Dallas on Friday morning to discuss the selection. In that timespan he reiterated just that fact.
"It's huge. We have a sign in front of our door when you come into the Notre Dame locker room: 'Avoid the noise.' Don't get caught by all the expectations – focus on yourself," Kelly said. "Zack is already prepared for all those things, and quite frankly, he came to Notre Dame because he enjoys that."
The Fighting Irish, anchored by Martin at left tackle, created a media firestorm in 2012 when they climbed to No. 1 in the polls for the first time in more than 20 years en route to the BCS Championship Game. As anyone familiar with college football might attest, there aren't many football teams that can draw scrutiny quite like Notre Dame – with the exception of the Cowboys.
"He enjoys being under that scrutiny, being under the spotlight, he's not thin-skinned," Kelly said of Martin. "He's somebody that's going to enjoy playing in Dallas."
That certainly seemed like the case on Thursday night, when the Dallas-area media got hold of Martin during the traditional draft night conference call. Asked how he felt about being forever linked to Manziel in the history of the 2014 NFL Draft, Martin didn't back down from the comparison. [embedded_ad]
"That's fine by me. I can live up to that," he said.
Kelly said the same thing, going as far as to say that his initial reaction to the pick was that "the Cowboys are going to win a Super Bowl." He called Martin a "consummate professional," and said he'd have an impact on the field straight away.
"I consider him a dominant competitor – one of the best I've ever been around," he said. "Johnny Manziel would have been exciting, but he would have been watching for a few years. Zack Martin is going to be on the field next year, he's going to help the Dallas Cowboys win football games."