My rundown through the entire first round of the NFL draft continues as I examine the Baltimore Ravens who hold the #17 pick in the first round.
The Pick: Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
Notre Dame has a proud tradition of producing talent in the NFL draft and 2014 will be no different. This time their best player is Zack Martin. Though a left tackle by trade, the nasty, powerful blocker may not have the arm length for that position in the pros. Still, that shouldn’t divert teams much from what he can do. He’s extremely sound technically, has a good power base, a mean streak and does his job on every snap.
Why: Most versatile offensive lineman in 2014 class
Martin likely won a lot of people over due to his talent, yes, but also his consistency. The kid has that look of a professional offensive lineman. Best of all he seems to have a knack for versatility in his blood. He graded out well during the pre-draft process playing everything from left and right tackle to the guard spots as well. The power is there for him to open running lanes while the balance and technique help him ward off pass rushers. In the right system he truly can play anywhere.
Argument: Darqueze Dennard rates higher on many boards
Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has developed a reputation for always sticking to his board regardless of needs. If that is the case it could prove very difficult for him to pass on Darqueze Dennard. The Michigan State cornerback is an ideal fit for the Ravens defense given his length and ability in press coverage. Baltimore needs more reliable players in coverage and Dennard rates higher on a lot of boards than Martin. He would also bring an element of leadership and work ethic that is never a bad thing to have in a locker room.
Counter-argument: Michael Oher and Eugene Monroe must be replaced
The key of course is that Martin doesn’t rate much lower than Dennard in most cases so it would be justified if the Baltimore Ravens took him because they are potentially staring at a tough situation on their offensive line. Michael Oher is not expected to return at right tackle while Eugene Monroe could bypass re-signing at left tackle to test his value on the open market in free agency. That makes finding depth and stability up front paramount for the team in the NFL draft. Key to all of that is finding somebody who can start right away.
That is why I would take Zack Martin if I were in charge. What are your thoughts?