Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of the best players in the game. He regularly makes the NFL Top 100 players’ lists, he’s been to five Pro Bowls, and has one First Team All Pro award to his credit. He’s been terrorizing interior linemen in this league for the better part of the past decade. But the one interior linemen he respects more than any other? Zack Martin.
I think Zack Martin is the best interior lineman in football.
He played offensive tackle at Notre Dame, and the Cowboys moved him in to play guard, which I think suits him best, I think. So he basically plays the guard position with the patience of an offensive tackle, which is pretty unique. Most interior linemen jump off the line and try and punch you right off the snap. But Zack is very patient. He’s not rattled by anything. You can head-fake, stab and grab, chop — none of it works because he doesn’t bite. He just sits back and waits for you to come to him, like a tackle would.
He’s also freakishly strong. If you try to bull-rush him, you might be able to get his feet moving backwards, but he’s able to regroup so quickly because he’s so strong and he has great feet. So he can use his strength to keep you engaged while he gets his feet back underneath him.
That’s a really nice scouting report on what makes Martin so good. McCoy recalls a play last season when he thought he had Martin beat. He got the initial pop on Martin and backed him up a step or two. But McCoy got greedy and started leaning into the A gap to get a shot at Ezekiel Elliott. Instead, Elliott cut to the B gap and Martin had just enough leverage to drive McCoy into the ground taking him completely out of the play. McCoy says if you make one little error, if you aren’t perfect, then Martin will crush you.
It’s a good article, McCoy offers more on Martin, but also talks about what makes some other linemen so good like Trent Williams and Marshal Yanda.