IRVING, Texas – Zack Martin arrived in Dallas as quite the departure from the glitz of the NFL draft's first round.
He wasn't flown in on a private jet, he flew commercial – his first-ever flight in first class. He even eschewed the customary flashy suit for slacks and a work shirt.
"This is definitely more me, more laid back," Martin said. "Especially, I figured if I was wearing a suit I'd be sweating profusely."
The Cowboys' decision to opt for Martin over the aura of Johnny Manziel will became famous in NFL draft lore, regardless of how seriously the team ever considered Manziel. But for all the pomp and circumstance surrounding this franchise, the Cowboys will be just happy if Martin winds up like their last two first-round offensive linemen – professional and proficient.
"I think I can do a lot for this team. I think I can help this team a lot," he said. "To tell you the truth, I really haven't thought about that whole comparison really at all until today when someone else brought it up to me. I'm not worried about that, I'm just here to compete and do whatever I can to help the team."
Bolstered by the addition of Martin, the offensive line should be able to do plenty to help this team. Tyron Smith, the team's 2011 first-rounder, was just optioned for at least two more seasons, and 2013 first-rounder Travis Frederick is about to start just his second season. Martin gives Dallas three young stalwarts who look likely to do their talking on the field.
"You need to build the infrastructure of your team, and we feel like we've got a great start with that with Tyron Smith and added to that last year by drafting Travis Frederick," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "We feel like Zack Martin is in that same mold of those kinds of guys. We feel like he is a darn good football player."
Cowboys first round pick Zack Martin arrives at Valley Ranch.
Ironically enough, the rookie is technically the senior member of this high-touted front. Martin turned 23 last November, just a few weeks before a three-year veteran and Pro Bowler in Smith, and both of them are several months older than Frederick.
"My mom asked to look up some of the offensive linemen on the team, and I saw their birthdays and I'm a little older than both of them – that's a little weird," Martin said.
It's got to be encouraging for Dallas, though, as the Cowboys now sit with three first-round talents primed to play together for the foreseeable future.
"It's already a great group, and it's going to be fun to play with some guys that are younger too," Martin said.
After celebrating in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, on Thursday night, Martin made the trip down to Dallas on Saturday for what will be an incredibly quick rookie turnaround. With the decision to move the draft back to May, Martin and many of his fellow rookies will take the field in less than one week for rookie minicamp on Friday. [embedded_ad]
"It's a little different, but I went through it going to college," he said. "Everyone has to do it, but it has been a few years since I have had to play this role."
Garrett said Thursday that Martin would begin his Cowboy career at guard, but perhaps this coming weekend Martin will learn which side of center he'll line up on. After starting 52 games at tackle for Notre Dame, it's one transition Martin will have to get used to.
True to the demeanor on display Saturday afternoon, Martin said he's ready to work – regardless of where.
"They'll let me know when the time comes, and whatever they ask me to do I'll be willing to do it," he said.