Mock Draft Spotlight: OT Zack Martin


There's something to be said for reliability, for a "safe" pick.

While it may not be sexy, it can be successful.

Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin is seen as one of the cleanest prospects in this year's draft. He's billed as a can't-miss type player.

But will the Ravens go in a more glamorous direction or address their need at right tackle by selecting Martin, as ESPN's Todd McShay predicts in his latest mock draft?

"This is a great fit," McShay writes. "The Ravens need a right tackle following the free-agency departure of Michael Oher, and Martin is a really good value here.

"There's a chance he ends up at guard because of his lack of ideal length, but we've projected him as an NFL tackle – and regardless of the position he ends up playing, he has the potential to be a very effective player. He possesses very good awareness and toughness."

Martin excelled at left tackle for all four years in South Bend, Ind. He was consistent in pass protection and strong in the run game too, showing off a nasty streak to go along with near flawless technique.

Martin was named Notre Dame's offensive lineman of the year all four years. Nobody in school history had ever won it more than twice. He was the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl MVP. The last time an offensive lineman was named the sole MVP of a bowl game was in 1959.

At 23 years old, Martin is older than most rookies. He redshirted his first year at Notre Dame and then exhausted his eligibility. He played his final year as a graduate student, earning his degree in management entrepreneurship.

After the season, Martin shined at the Senior Bowl and combine, which has sent his stock on a steady climb among draftniks.

But Martin still isn't generally viewed as one of the top three offensive linemen in this year's draft. He trails Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan. And much of that is because of Martin's size.

At 6-foot-4, 308 pounds, Martin doesn't have ideal length for a prototypical tackle. That has many pundits, and perhaps scouts, to project him more at guard, where he could be a dominating force. Martin never played guard in college, but did work out there some at the Senior Bowl.

"I think I can play tackle, and I think I can play it at a high level," Martin said. "But at the same time, I'm a versatile player. You've got to be a technician. You've got to study tape and know your opponent. There are other ways to get an advantage on your opponent, and you have to find those."

The Ravens haven't gotten caught up in size for their tackles. They drafted Oher in the first round in 2009 and he was 6-foot-4, 315 pounds.

"You could certainly say that he could be a guard," Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said. "But he can also certainly play tackle. He spent four years there, and he's as durable as can be. He never missed a start at Notre Dame (52 games). He anchored down the left side there going against some pretty good pass rushers all across the country. He's tough, he's smart,he's competitive."

The Ravens' current leader to be the starting right tackle is Rick Wagner, who will compete with Jah Reid. Wagner was a fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin last year who improved dramatically as the season went on, but did not see extensive offensive action at any point.

Martin would presumably step into competition for the right tackle spot, but also would bring position flexibility in case Baltimore wanted to move Kelechi Osemele back to tackle.

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