Man, Dallas is going to have a really expensive offensive line come 2019.
That might be the only negative thing to say about this selection; and wouldn't that be a great in-house problem to have.
With their first pick of the 2014 draft, the Dallas Cowboys have selected Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin to join the fold. After ignoring the offensive line in the early rounds of the drafts for so long, Jerry Jones and company have now dipped into the first round pool three of the last four years. Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick have a new linemate, and the pedigree of the unit has just skyrocketed.
Martin will presumably line up at right guard, where he projects best, with the ability to also play right tackle in the league. This is do to his lone difficulty being able to handle wide rushes and control his waist bend to handle edge rushes. These weaknesses are basically eliminated when putting him inside at guard.
What Martin Brings To The Table
Martin has started an outstanding 52 games in his career; 50 of them as a left tackle. He is one of the most polished linemen that you will find and has a great ability to advance to the second level and latch onto defenders; a must with a zone scheme. His hand usage is superb, as he uses it to stun defenders and knock them off of the play. His intelligence is obvious when watching his play; he seems to always be one step ahead of the defender(s) in front of him. Combining him with Travis Frederick on the interior of the line will go a long way to removing the memory of the Cowboys getting fooled by stunting linemen. That must make Tony Romo happy.
Martin's profile began to rise in public knowledge during this year's Senior Bowl; where all of his skills came to be displayed. Here's what CBS Sports' Rob Rang had to say about him then.
On the offensive side of the ball, Martin locked down the blindside for most of the day, showing his trademark patience, forceful hands and underrated athleticism. While he generally played well, Martin's lack of ideal size was exposed a bit by some of the longer defensive ends he faced during Tuesday's practice, most notably West Virginia's Will Clarke, a 6-foot-6, 271-pounder with nearly 34" arms.
While Notre Dame's standout handled speed rushers, Clarke used his long arms to keep Martin's hands from grabbing hold of him. Unable to latch on, Martin was beaten to the outside, on occasion, reinforcing the theory that while he could remain at tackle in the NFL, he projects as a potential Pro Bowl guard.
He wasn't the only one singing his praises. NFL Network's Mike Mayock took things a step further, saying ever higher commendations were in Martin's future at guard.
"He never missteps, he's always under control," Mayock said, pointing out that Martin is a solid technician and also has enough quickness to push speed pass rushers past the quarterback.
Some analysts think Martin might be best-suited to play guard because of his size (6-foot-4, 305 pounds). Pugh was a tackle at Syracuse and was moved inside by theGiants. Mayock said he thinks Martin can play left tackle, but "worst-case scenario, you move him inside and he's an All-Pro guard."
When our own Joey Ickes' looked at Martin, here's what he had to say.
Martin is also a very good run blocker, he has the ability to make the cut-off or reach block, getting his hands on a man a full gap away from him, and swing his hips around to get his butt in position to set the crease for the back. He is also agile enough to get to the second level and mirror a LB, and remove them from the play when called upon as well.
His best trait as a run blocker to me is his instincts as part of a GOT or TAG (Guard/Tackle) combination block in the zone run game. He has a great sense of how long to stick with the man at the first level, and does very good job of timing his release and finding his man at the second level to clear the lane for the running back to scamper through...
Zack Martin has a graduate level understanding of offensive line play, and plays with extremely refined technique.
What Does This Tell Us About Dallas
That they stayed true to their tendencies. Earlier in the week, we harped on several draft tendencies that Dallas has shown that give us great insight into what they would do this weekend.
The first? Dallas is obsessed with getting in-depth knowledge of a prospect and relies on drafting players that they've brought in for a pre-draft visit. Eight of their last nine first picks (including third rounder Jason Williams in 2009) have been in for one of those visits.
Then, the fact that Dallas loves to walk out of the first round being able to say "We got the best [insert position here], and this clearly is at play here with Martin. The Cowboys project Martin to guard first and foremost and the tradition that started with Dez Bryant, and continued through Tyron Smith, Mo Claiborne and Travis Frederick continues.
And of course, Martin is an RKG. He's been team captain the last two years in South Bend and has won their offensive lineman of the year award all four seasons of his collegiate career.
What Does The Film Say?
Take a look for yourself.