Examining Notre Dame center Nick Martin, a 2016 NFL Draft prospect who is one of the best at his position. Will he be a top 50 selection? Top 64?
Name: Nick Martin
Wt: 302 pounds
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
Prospect Video (from Draft Breakdown)
Most Translatable NFL Traits
If there’s one thing that’s apparent about Nick Martin, it’s that he’s got a veteran football IQ already at this point in his playing career, and NFL teams are going to absolutely love it. The two-year team captain who started every game he played in since 2013 has a ton of experience, makes all the calls on the line, and has the type of leadership qualities that will allow him to be a quick learner and contributor on an NFL team.
His football IQ is evident when he’s out there on the field, as he’s so technically sound and good in setting up his technique quickly off the snap. He’s obviously well-coached, but that takes a football player who is willing to let himself be well-coached. There aren’t many technical errors when you watch Martin play football.
His ability to make calls at the line, his starting experience, and his intangible qualities will give NFL teams peace of mind when they are thinking about pulling the trigger on him come draft weekend.
You need a center who is able to get out in space and make plays, you need someone who is going to be able to get into his pass block set really quickly, but you also need a grinder who is going to be able to finish someone off in the running game.
Case in point:
The type of finish we see here against the Ohio State defender is the type of play that NFL scouts are drooling over. It’s unrealistic to expect it on a play by play basis, but Martin certainly has the strength to make it happen regularly as well as the leverage in his quick set, wide base to be able to put defenders in the ground with regularity.
Area for Improvement
Pulls/2nd level blocking
I don’t think Martin is ‘unathletic’ but I think he struggles a bit on pulls and making blocks at the second level of defense. There were times in the game against Temple where he struggled to identify and get his hands on defenders at the second level, particularly Temple’s stud linebacker Tyler Matakevich. Martin also struggled at times getting a good position when trying to pull block and make plays outside of his box at the center position.
I think there were probably some outliers here, but this was something I noticed that could be the biggest knock on his game at this point, and probably the reason why teams will stay away from him when considering using a first round draft pick on a center.
Biggest Red Flag
Major knee injury (2013)
He didn’t miss any time with it, but a major knee injury knocked Martin out from late-November to the end of the 2013 season, and will be thoroughly checked in the pre-draft process by NFL medical staffs.
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I think Nick Martin is a good center prospect. There is the capability to be a great one, but I don’t think he’s shown me enough on pulls/second level blocks that I would want to see out of a possible first round pick. That could be due more to arm length than athleticism, but the pre-draft process will give us those measurables to find out for sure.
One thing I do know — this is a player I would take on my football team in a heartbeat. The traits that he has to work with are those of an NFL starting center. He knows the position, he will be able to adapt to an NFL offense quickly, and he has the strength to be able to cope with interior defenders at the next level.
I think this is a 2nd or 3rd round player and any later than that, you’re committing highway robbery.