Zack Martin, LT, Notre Dame (HT: 6'4"; WT: 308 lbs)
First Round: 16th Pick
NFL Comparison: Josh Sitton, OG, Green Bay Packers
+ One of the biggest stars of Senior Bowl week in Mobile.
+ Smart, communicative player who is very sharp in interviews.
+ Excellent footwork and use of leverage to consistently gain terrific positioning.
+ Technical, fundamental prospect who lacks many true question marks regarding his game.
- Undersized to play tackle at the NFL level and may project best to guard.
- Can struggle with pass-rushers who exhibit elite outside speed.
- Has very short arms and very small hands.
- Questions exist about strength to get head-up three-techniques off of their spots as an NFL guard.
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Martin is a broad, thick and barrel-chested player with a lean and tubular build. Despite being undersized as a tackle prospect, Martin is an athletic specimen who turns heads when he walks in a room.
One of the most intriguing sights of Senior Bowl week was witnessing what appeared to be terrific, natural footwork from Zack Martin, as he kept talented North-Squad edge threats such as Louisville's Marcus Smith and Missouri's Michael Sam very quiet and unproductive in Mobile.
In the GIF we see Martin (LT No. 70) using good feet and fluid awareness to mirror an edge threat, positioning himself well through engagement as the defender tries to convert his rush. Martin keeps his head up and his feet pumping. He gets to proper depth and seems relatively balanced.
Most importantly, evaluators will notice Martin's hips leading the way. Martin stays on a swivel through his core, keeping his hip pointers aimed directly at the opposition—this starts in the feet but manifests itself through the hips physically.
Although the focus here is on feet, the clip serves as a bit of a look at Martin's game in microcosm. While it doesn't necessarily always look pretty, it is a rare sight to see him miss his personal assignment and an even rarer one to see him dominated in any sort of head-to-head fashion.
Motor, Explosiveness, Toughness and Power
As for pure power numbers from the combine, Martin put up a very respectable 29 reps, although much less would have been disappointing given the relatively short distance from his chest to extension of the bar. No evaluator will question Martin's motor, either. He plays through the whistle, shows good endurance and finishes decisively.
Martin is a tough player who, as you'll see below in his Reese's Senior Bowl YouTube Scouting Interview with Mike Loyko and RosterWatch, says he is most comfortable in space as a tackle but feels confident in his abilities to play guard, "where everything happens much faster."
Evaluators will worry about Martin's ability to take on head-up, anchoring three-techniques as an NFL offensive guard. Martin's power is only slightly above average, and he has not shown at the college level that he is a consistently mauling body-mover.
Quickness, Agility and Balance
One of the best, if not the best, traits in Martin's game is his natural understanding of leverage and positioning. He plays offensive line like a wrestler. Martin takes good angles to the second level and displays very functional agility. What he lacks in power and leg drive he makes up for in leverage and positioning. Martin has consistently put on tape great quickness and agility in doing so.
We have established that Martin does not have ideal size and or length. His hands were among the smallest at the combine, but somehow Martin has become an excellent reach-blocker. It's impressive because those natural, physical traits are usually what give dominant reach-blockers like Trent Williams their edge.
The play in this GIF is a stretch concept where Martin seems to get off to a rocky start. He has to take a lateral power step in hopes of getting wide enough to execute the reach and gets popped back a little bit in the process. What evaluators will love about Martin is his excellent motor and ability to recover and finish plays like this one. He's consistently aware of his positioning and shows great agility and balance to get in good spots.
Run-Blocking and Pass-Blocking
Having noticed Martin's great motor, his ability to effectively take angles and his strength at attaining play-side leverage, most evaluators will have him pegged as a natural fit in an NFL zone-blocking scheme.
Martin does a great job on the zone concept featured in the GIF. He takes his proper 45-degree angle upfield and aims his outside knee through the middle of the defender. Upon engagement, he delivers a strong punch and finds a way to dip his inside shoulder through the end's chestplate in gaining proper position and leverage.
Overall, as a pass-blocker Martin seems more comfortable on the edge at tackle than most might think before in-depth review.
Concerns do remain about his size and ability to man the edge in an NFL system, though, and this GIF clearly shows an aspect of Martin's game that will need cleaning up.
When Martin does get beaten in pass protection, it is generally in a case of defenders converting inside-out and turning speed to power. Martin's initial kicks and depth are good, but anticipation of possible outside speed leaves his body exposed to be bull-punched violently.
With his lack of length, Martin will struggle to find ways at the NFL level to keep himself balanced while anticipating outside speed as a left tackle.
(Alex Dunlap is an NFL Featured Columnist. All quotes and information gained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Alex Dunlap on Twitter - @AlexDunlapNFL)
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