NFL Draft 2012: What to Expect from Mike Martin's Rookie Year

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistMay 3, 2012

Martin would do well to get a sack his rookie year.
Martin would do well to get a sack his rookie year.Leon Halip/Getty Images

After months of media hype, the NFL draft is over, and fans finally have new members of their team to welcome to town.

Expectations for draft picks are high, but are they too high?

Over the course of the next few weeks, "What to Expect" will examine every draft pick from the AFC South in its historical context. Using past performances from similarly drafted players and by examining the way in which each team develops certain positions, I will create a realistic baseline by which to judge the performance of each pick.

Readers should be aware that rookies historically perform much, much worse than fan expectations.

Also keep in mind that I am not saying the player will perform to these expectations, but rather anything better than the results should be considered a successful rookie year, and anything worse would be a disappointment.

These are not predictions. They are baselines.

The Titans followed up their controversial second-round pick with a well-received third-round selection. Mike Martin is a productive defensive tackle out of Michigan. He's a classic "winner." He plays hard and is well-respected.

What can Tennessee hope to get out of him in year one?

Since 2000, there have been 32 tackles taken in the third round of the draft. Here's what we can learn from them:

  • Most played heavily their rookie year. Twenty-four played in at least nine games. Ten of them started at least half of their games their rookie year. Twenty started three games or less.
  • Only six players on the list picked up more than 1.5 sacks. Thirteen failed to register any sacks.
  • Nine had at least 20 tackles. Seventeen failed to register even 10 tackles.
  • There are a few stars on the list, like Darnell Dockett and Randy Starks. Both of them had outstanding rookie years.
  • Several players on the list busted out after just a year or two in the league. This is by far the more likely outcome.

The Titans have had good luck with tackles in the draft, and several of their picks had outstanding rookie years. In fact, two of the very best third-round rookies were Randy Starks (eight starts, 4.5 sacks, 17 tackles) and Jurrell Casey, who had a massive rookie year, posting 2.5 sacks and 40 tackles in 15 starts.

Fans should recognize that Casey's production is atypical. Martin probably won't hit that same level. One sack, 20 tackles would rate among the upper third of seasons from this level of draft pick.



Martin can and should be expected to contribute. He ought to see regular action and have some impact, but fans would be wise not to expect a repeat of Casey's incredible 2011 campaign.

If Martin does post big numbers, he could be on his way to a very good professional career. There are more failed tackles than successful ones, however, so the deck is stacked against him.