2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Notre Dame Offensive Tackle Zack Martin

Zack Martin was a mainstay on the Notre Dame offensive line. And while his future position is uncertain, there’s reason to believe the 52-game starter will fulfill similar purpose in the NFL. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this fourth installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin.

A mainstay.

That’s what Zack Martin became for the Notre Dame football program, shortly after enrolling as a 6’4”, 280-pound Under Armour All-American in 2009. The Indianapolis native did not play a down as a freshman that fall, but he played nearly every down over the next four.

Martin was one of 11 Notre Dame players to start all 13 contests in 2010, notching 11 at left tackle and two at right tackle to tally 831 snaps. In culmination of his efforts, Martin was named Guardian of the Year, bestowed upon the Fighting Irish’s top offensive lineman.

He picked up where he left off in 2011. Martin started all 13 games while Notre Dame’s front conceded just 17 sacks and amassed 4.8 yards per carry. He garnered top-lineman recognition for the second-straight season in result.

Martin made it three-straight as a redshirt junior in 2012. The developed, 6’4”, 305-pound blocker earned second-team All-American acknowledgement from the Walter Camp Football Association, as Notre Dame finished the regular season 12-0 that December. And he earned his 13th start of the season a month later.

No. 70 was there when Alabama conquered Notre Dame, 42-14, in the BCS title game that January.

No. 70 was there after.

Under the capacity of graduate student and football player, Martin returned to South Bend in 2013. In doing so, the fifth-year senior returned as a candidate for the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy. With his longevity and leadership guiding an injury-laden group, Notre Dame’s line allowed just eight sacks all season.

Martin’s final campaign was not unlike the rest, though; it was one of reliability. And by the time it was over, the 23-year-old had started an offensive lineman school-record 52 games.

He was a two-time team captain. He was a starter in 36 wins. He was the MVP of his final bowl game. He was “Ironman.”

He was, however, more than accolades and a nickname in the eyes of Irish head coach Brian Kelly.

“[Martin] is the best offensive lineman I’ve ever coached, and I’ve coached some great ones,” said Kelly – per Al Lesar of the South Bend Tribune – following Notre Dame’s victory over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Kelly’s sentiment is not an outlier; Martin is viewed as a first-round pick this May. He illustrated why at the Senior Bowl last month, excelling with technique, athleticism and versatility at both tackle and guard – a position he did not play in college. So while remains to be seen where or what he’ll play at the next level, Martin will draw interest early in the 2014 draft because he carries the traits to fit almost anywhere.

One place he could fit is in Foxborough, Mass.

Martin may very well be off the board by pick 29 overall. Yet until that transpires, head coach Bill Belichick – a Kelly confidant – and the New England Patriots personnel department figure to be in contention for his services.

Here is a closer look into how Martin’s services impact both phases of the offense, courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.

A Smooth Yet Violent Run-Blocker

There’s something to be said for making a block look effortless.

That penchant of Martin’s game is often visualized in the run.

Martin doesn’t stand out in stature as a bookend – Patriots tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer tower four inches taller. He doesn’t stand out in terms of range, either – 32.25-inch arms are less than ideal for commanding space. But stature and range fail to define the four-year starter when it comes to run blocking.

Albeit at a position where the play moves slower than it does on the interior, Martin proved to be reactionary off the ball over his time at Notre Dame. Whether he was moving straight ahead or pulling into the second level, his short-area quickness and lateral movement were of great benefit to the Fighting Irish backfield – a collection that included future NFL rushers in Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood.

This is, in part, because Martin’s suddenness after the snap often translates into fluidity at the point of attack. He plays under control as he approaches his target, lowering his rear and bending his knees to accentuate functional strength. From there, he doesn’t overstretch his bounds; he doesn’t reach and fall into the line of scrimmage.

He keeps his base consolidated to help him drive even more agile opponents upright, instead.

Martin is light-footed, flexible and fundamental as a run-blocker. These characteristics help him dictate and combo-block rush lanes without being a mauler. That being said, Martin brings more to the run game than finesse.

He brings a mean streak.

This was seen versus Rutgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28.

On a 3rd-and-5 with 12:30 remaining in the opening quarter, Notre Dame facilitated “11” personnel with wide receiver T.J. Jones motioning in to form a two-back shotgun backfield.

The play call was a sweep to Jones, and it was predicated on running back Tarean Folston’s ability to swing into the flat as a lead blocker opposite the 3-3 nickel. Yet it was also predicated on Martin’s ability to lead the inside and roadblock 6’4”, 260-pound Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Darius Hamilton, who finished the year with 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

As quarterback Tommy Rees handled the snap and the interim tailback crossed for the exchange, the play-side back and receiver pursued linebacker and cornerback blocks.

As they did, Martin broke off the line and sought to beat Hamilton to the edge, getting under the defender with his inside shoulder and lunging arms.

As Martin moved diagonally and made his presence felt, he then locked in to extend and dishevel Hamilton. In the process, he put the closest inhibitor on his heels.

That afforded the ball-carrier time and space to turn the corner.

Hamilton wasn’t out of contesting the play. He pulled back on Martin’s wrists to stabilize.

Despite that adjustment, Jones still saw daylight on the outside of Martin. If the interim tailback could widen the angle and eclipse his left tackle, he would have a rush lane through the first-down marker.

Hamilton tore his right arm up and out of Martin’s restriction, scuffing the blocker’s helmet. Martin responded by checking the sophomore in the chest, regaining direction and control of the leverage battle.

Jones pivoted upfield behind them.

In reaction, Hamilton swiveled his back to Martin. That move had consequence; Martin threw him to the turf.

It helped pave the way for Jones to move the chains.

On this particular run, Martin displayed lateral agility, an ability to lower into contact, rapid hands and necessary ferocity to occupy space.

Although he can occasionaly get latched onto the defender’s outside shoulder and overrun into the B-gap, and although he’s not as explosive as other first-round-caliber linemen in this draft class, Martin plays to his strengths.

Those strengths make him viable in the run game, outside or in.

A Technical Yet Tough Pass-Blocker

Martin is a fine athlete. Yet while responsive off the ball, his slide can be tested versus blitzers built to bend the arc around his range, which occasionally leaves him cutting corners or facing the quarterback.

Martin is, however, a technician.

And that helps abate his physical limitations as a pass-blocker, as suggested in the scarce sack totals the Notre Dame line allowed over the last four years.

Quick to his stance, Martin is instinctual in reading the defense. He communicates, he identifies his assignment, and he is swift in transitioning responsibilities when stunts emerge.

Regardless of the situation, Martin understands how to sit in his blocks as the pocket forms. He drops his hips and establishes anchor, even against larger bull-rushers vying to knife through. He is adept in this respect, not only due to tactfulness but due to the core strength that allows him to absorb the punch.

That rugged nature, combined with a heavy first hand and plant foot, aids Martin in disrupting leverage while shadowing his man.

These traits were showcased on Oct. 19 against USC.

Down in the red zone on a 3rd-and-5 to end the first quarter, the Irish spread four wide from “11.” Tight end Troy Niklas stood in the seam for a comeback rub route, while halfback Amir Carlisle flanked Rees in what was an opportunity to test the Trojans’ 3-4 cushion.

USC sugared the safety blitz in the A-gaps, but the real blitz was rooted in the outside linebackers. And off the left side, that meant Martin would be facing 6’3”, 255-pound redshirt senior Devon Kennard.

Reese harnessed the shotgun snap and gazed at his primary read. Yet with the USC front shipping a five-man rush to pressure the senior QB, this also put pressure on the USC secondary.

In turn, the determining factor rested in the trenches.

Martin slid outward to mirror Kennard, keeping his inside foot grounded. He squared himself and awaited the rush move, concurrently holding inside for redshirt senior left guard Chris Watt.

As Rees dropped back and the USC coverage followed suit, the left side of line grew urgent.  George Uko, the Trojans’ 6’3”, 275-pound defensive tackle, vied to swoop underneath Watt and into the B-gap, all while Kennard vied to widen pass protection on his way into the C-gap.

Averting those intentions, Watt maintained stance with proper knee bend, positioning his feet parallel to the rush linebacker.

Anticipating the contact and push off, Rees stared down Niklas. But in the immediate foreground, Uko stared down Rees. The three-technique had quickly ripped around Watt to get the passer in his sights.

Martin’s engagement with Kennard was developing more gradually. Kennard barred his left arm out ahead of the left tackle’s shoulder, but Martin’s hands were ready and his frame was keeping pace.

Martin timed his opponent’s rush move and delivered at pad level. He set his feet and forged into Kennard, sending the defender on a deviated pathway.

The backside was secure, but Uko was closing in on quarterback’s front shoulder. So Rees climbed the pocket to dodge him.

Kennard couldn’t dodge Martin, though; he was driven away from the ball as the blocker continued pedal his feet.

As for Rees, he had room to work beyond the outstretched hands of Uko. This gave way to a clean release downfield in the junior tight end’s direction.

It was a touchdown on a five-man rush. It was a touchdown that Martin was an integral part of – not for what happened in the B-gap, but rather, what didn’t happen in the C-gap.

He remained composed to combat the blitz. And he remained in his block through Niklas’ reception.

Now Martin may not have top-tier lateral agility. He may lack the size to command long and lean ends firing from the seven- or nine-technique. Yet ultimately, there’s reason to believe the comparisons to Patriots All-Pro left guard – a former Fresno State left tackle – Logan Mankins are well deserved.

Both play rough and refined, at the same time.


Martin does not fit the NFL tackle prototype due to his height and arm length, but he does fit the prototype of a football player.

He fits the prototype of a football player who could be a first-day draft choice and a first-day starter, regardless of if it’s at left tackle, right tackle, left guard or right guard.

You won’t find flash with Zack Martin.

You will find steadiness.

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38 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Notre Dame Offensive Tackle Zack Martin”

  1. steve earle says:

    Intresting thoughts from acm and Maineman about Martin being there at #29. The same idea has been expressed at one time or another here about Nix III, Amaro and ASJ. I wonder if ant 2 or 3 of these players were there it wouldn’t encourage BB to trade down as he would feel confident of getting a “value pick” as well as additional later picks. Just a thought, what do you guys think?

  2. steve earle says:

    Intresting thoughts from acm and Maineman here regarding Martin at #29 or even high 2nd round. I’d add that I think IF Both Martin, Nix III and ASJ and possably another player such as Amaro (all of whom have been suggested being there at one time or another) were all there it can be argued it would encourage BB to trade down for a mid/high 2nd (plus?) because he would be reasonably assured of getting a value pick he so likes to do. Just a thought, what do you guys think?

  3. Daniel R. Martin says:

    I accept that Martin would be a great acquisition for the Pats. But even Belichick must secretly know that when Brady is done playing, the team will be fractionally as competitive as they’ve invariably been. That being said, what positional overhaul will be most crucial to the teams ability to win a Superbowl this season and next? Not four years from now.

    • acm says:

      Well, hope that wouldn’t be the case although chances are BB retire along with Brady … and there is the Cassel precedent too.

      Anyways, it starts with the trenches and keeping Brady up-right. So, adding quality and getting younger at interior OL would be goal #1, imo (the leader of the group, Mankins, is getting old and injuries are piling on, so leadership would be important too).

      Then they need to get younger at DL and hopefully get more athletic (better interior pass rush) too, in the process. Improving the interior rush would do no harm to production on the edges too. Interior DL is one position I think would be best fixed in free agency – need to get younger but need savvy players with experience too. Players like Joseph, Jones, Houston, Melton, etc. come to mind.

      On O they still have Gronk, technically, but his inability to finish a season may require paying more attention than expected to rebuilding the TE position (as part of the passing game), as well.

      Of course secondary (especially SAF) and WR positions need some tinkering too but that’s more along the lines of a tune-up than a rebuilding.

    • MaineMan says:

      I believe that, as long as BB remains the HC after Brady retires, it’s highly unlikely that the Pats suddenly become a sub-.500 team. The Brady-led seasonal W range of 12-14 may well drop back into the 10-12 range with somewhat more frequent playoff-less years, but not much below that.

      I believe that BB does whatever he can to configure each season’s roster specifically to, first, win the division and then to win the majority of their out-of-division conference games against that season’s specific slate of opponents – in an attempt to ensure that the team at least makes the post-season and thus, gains the *opportunity* to make a run for the SB. And I expect that to continue after Brady is gone.

      I also think that BB will be coaching the Pats for awhile after. He’ll only be 62 in April and I have the sense that he enjoys the challenge enough that he’s unlikely to retire before age 70 and may stick around beyond that if his health holds up.

      While it would be great to see Brady with another ring or two before he’s done, I doubt that BB goes “balls out” or, really, does anything much different, personnel-wise in the meantime. For one thing, I’m sure he knows that bringing in a bunch of “big gun” FA’s and or trading up for “sure thing, blue-chip” rookies carries absolutely no guarantees and might strip the team of the ability to be competitive in future years as a consequence. For another, the cap and the fact that he’s always drafting late limits how much he could do in that regard anyway.

      I think what the Pats need is not a different approach to the roster, but just a little bit of luck wrt injuries and bounces of the ball. I think BB’s approach always puts the team in the best position to take advantage of that little bit of luck and I have a difficult time demanding any more than that.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Thanks. I believe I misrepresented my position by phrasing my question with the term positional overhaul. This was reposted from a response I submitted in conversation to a acm further below on this page. I wanted to allow everyone else an opportunity to weigh in.

        I am certainly not advocating the Patriots become fool hardy and rush into a position of mortgaging the future of the franchise. However, because I believe Tom Brady is the greatest QB to have ever played professional football, it would be cognitively dissonant for me to assume the team will suffer with his departure.

        Which is why even though I believe Martin or any other quality O-Linemen sitting on the board at #29 would be a good acquisition for the team in the intermediate future, but not a move that has the greatest propensity to elevate them back to AFC dominance. I think either the right TE or, to a lesser extent, the right DT will be more immediately impactfull.

        I wouldn’t trade up for any player in this draft because the class is too deep. Some are even suggesting a move upward for Martin, and that would be an even bigger mistake than moving up for Ebron.

        I have been advocating for a trade backward for weeks. But, if a pick is to be made at #29, I would prefer our team select a player at the right position to either continue the steady improvement of our defense, or to return the team to the offensive jugernaut that has characterized the franchise for years.

    • Pete H. says:

      To answer your question, the starting positions that don’t have a quality guy projected to fill them this season and/or next season would be (this leaves out backup roles like your 4th linebacker or your 3rd defensive end, but these guys are typically found later in the draft or in lower cost free agents – think Edelman and Svitek last year):

      Offense: Guard, Center, Tight End and/or Outside Receiver (depending on if you run 3 WR/1 TE or 2 WR/2 TE sets, getting one of each would be ideal)
      Defense: Defensive Tackle (x2), Cornerback, Safety

      You’ve got Brady, Solder, Mankins, Vollmer, Ridley/Vereen, Gronkowski, Dobson, and Amendola as projected starters on offense, and Ninkovich, Jones, Collins, Hightower, Mayo, Dennard, and McCourty (assuming he’s extended) as projected starters on defense through next season(Arrington or Ryan coming in for nickel downs, if you consider that a starter)

      There are basically 8 spots to fill over 2 years, which isn’t too bad. Quality right guards and centers in particular can often be found in the 3rd round, and you have 4 1st and 2nd round picks in the next 2 drafts to fill some spots. That leaves you with only a couple of spots to fill in free agency, one of which could be Talib at cornerback.

  4. MaineMan says:

    While a lot of mock drafts, which, pre-Combine are mostly wishful thinking, have Martin being selected in the top 20 or even top 15, pure scouting sites have him ranked in the top 50 with a general projection of late-first to mid-2nd. Martin could have a pretty decent Combine and still end up in that range if prospects who have been lurking below that range put up head-turning numbers and leapfrog him.

    Also, while common wisdom has the Dolphins drafting OL left and right, the facts are that they have a couple draftees from 2013 on the roster who have some pretty decent potential and also have about $32 million in cap space to use on backfilling some of their open OL spots with good veterans.

    All of which is to say that concerns about BB needing to hope that Martin “falls” to #29 or move up to get him may be somewhat misplaced at this point.

    That said, I think that Martin may be exactly the type of prospect that BB would draft at #29, although it’s not inconceivable that he could trade down into the top of the 2nd, picking up an extra 4th-rounder, and still get his guy.

    A 2014 starting line of Solder-Mankins- Connolly-MARTIN-Vollmer with Cannon, Kline and one or two of Devey/Mattes/Svitek/Barker/Cave as reserves would seem pretty satisfactory to me.

    • acm says:

      I can get behind this, even if I think the Dolphins would be stupid not take Martin at 19. I for one don’t expect him to put up great numbers at the combine and that would be something that may well make teams hesitant to take him early, looking for that athletic stud with sub 5.00 sec 40-yard time. Along the same lines, for most, Martin likely projects at OG rather than OT in the NFL – another reason to hope his stock may fall a bit.

      I personally see him as a player who may not be fast but is quick and has everything to become a top player both at G and T in the NFL. He may be seen as undersized and a bit slow/unathletic for a T but then again, so was Matt Light. It’s that positional flexibility that I think makes Martin a tough option to pass on at 29 (if there) considering the Pats are having durability and aging issues at both G (mankins) and T(Vollmer)

  5. Matt says:

    If he is there at #29 you absolutely take him. He comes in and most likely starts at RG as a rookie. Connolly moves back to center where he is a much better fit then at RG. Connolly takes over longterm at LG when mankins contract runs out or retires. I love the thought of Solder, Mankins, Connolly, Martin, Vollmer. Very solid starting 5!!

    • acm says:

      Connolly is actually a little older than Mankins.

      like the above but would like the following even better, if they can make it happen:

      Solder, Mankins, Mack , Martin, Vollmer

      • Russell says:

        Hard to believe Cleveland would let Mack get away, but super idea!!

      • Matt says:

        Would love to see Mack @ center. But yes, hard to believe Cleveland lets him get away and I don’t think pats are going to pay him in the 5-6 mil a year range which is what I would assume he will get. We can dream though!

        • td says:

          They already have plenty invested in salary on the OLine and Solder is next on the extension/re-sign track, so no-go on Mack.

          I would think that Cannon is going to kick inside on a permanent basis moving Connolly to either Center or backup role. Maybe Connolly moves to C and Wendell is the odd man out as he really struggles with big NT’s.

  6. steve earle says:

    Martin would be a great fit given his versatility, just the kind of player BB would take. Somehow I just don’t see him coming down to #29. I think Nix III has a better chance of that and that’s slim to none. Nor do expect Bill will move up in this draft for any player, just to many later value picks this year.

    • Matt says:

      This years draft class is better then last years that’s why bb traded down last year. And why he moved up to get Jones. That years draft class was better then the year before. So I think the odds are a bit better he might move up in the draft.

      • steve earle says:

        Okay but remember he moved up in the 2nd rd after trading the 1st for a pocket full of picks. Can’t see that translating to him moving up in the 1st this year for an OG (projected nfl pos with Pat’s) when the draft is so deep in O-line.

        • Matt says:

          Right. Last year the traded down drafted Collins who I think could workout well for the Pats. They traded out of the first cause they only had about 8 picks in the whole draft. I don’t think they will trade up for an O lineman. But they could for a D lineman. But know one knows with BB. I don’t even think BB knows what he will do until its the night of the draft.

  7. Pete H. says:

    2 part question:
    1) Would you or would you not part with Ryan Mallett for a 4th round pick and a 5th round pick this year, assuming no higher offer was on the table?
    2) Will at least one team be willing to part with a 4th and 5th round pick in exchange for Ryan Mallett?

    • Bill Vermont says:

      I would at least want to get a high enough pick to cash it in for developmental QB. And by the time you get to 5th round its pretty picked over. I probably hold out for fro a low 2nd rd or high 3rd rd pick.

      If Mallett wants to stay at a reasonable rate, I would probably try to re-sign him. We all THINK he’s a great backup , so there’s the sleep at night factor. There isn’t anyone hardly who is an experienced backup that we can bring in. If Cassell is a free agent, he’d be good, but probably made $4MM last year, and might as well keep Mallett.

    • Russell says:

      What I would think is, a team like Minnesota would trade with New England for a package deal. QB Mallett and Patriots #93 (3d round) for Minnesota’s (3d) # 72, and thier 3d pick in the 2015 draft.

    • Matt says:

      Trade Mallet to the Texans for there first pick 33 over all. He is a better QB compared with Manziel. Plus O’Brien will be calling the offensive plays which Mallet already knows.

    • steve earle says:

      Q1, yes Q2, who knows?

  8. Russell says:

    Zack Martin is a very good player, hard to believe he is on the Board at #29. Martin is the only player I could see Bill Tradeing up to get. Miami take’s Martin for sure at #16.

    • Bill Vermont says:

      I couldn’t believe, with all the OL out there in this draft, that Martin is so good that BB would trade up for him. Its rare that he ‘d be a difference maker that much, with 3-4 others taken ahead of him.
      I would not even think he’d take an OL at #29. If we let Cannon become the RG, and draft a C in 2-3 rd, we can address other areas more pressing. I’d like a DL, SS, TE, and an annual CB all in the top 4 picks. That’s 5 choices

      • Russell says:

        I feel Martin could be a 10 year starter at OG for the Patriots, so I feel moving up is well worth it. You would need to be ahead of Miami #16 to get him, which could be costly. Maybe a package deal, Patriots 1st #29, 3d, #93 and QB Mallett to Tennesse for 1st#11 and 5th #139.

        • steve earle says:

          10 year starter or not that trade would kill or draft imo.

        • acm says:

          Miami is picking at 19, not 16 and the Pats don’t have a 5th rounder this year (moved back into the 6th with the trade for Sopoaga).
          That 11th pick they could trade back and pick up a high 3rd or even a 2nd rounder and still be in front of the Dolphins for Martin … so the Titans better value Mallett a ton and then some.

        • Russell says:

          Oops the Miami pick is 19 sorry, and the 5th is coming from Tenn.

    • Daniel R. Martin says:

      BB want even trade up for Eric Ebron, a phenomenal talent at a position of dire need. I doubt he would trade up for Martin. Especially considering, as mentioned, decent O-Line talent exist deep into this draft, and TE and DT are both greatly more needed and more difficult to acquire in free agency.

      • acm says:

        It’s BB we are talking about – the only player on offense he is likely to take in the 1st, would be an OL-man.
        fixing the O-line early in the draft would make sense also because with Scarnecchia gone, they may well have to quit the practice of relying on late draft picks and even UDFA to protect Brady. It’s been a while since they’ve drafted a quality player for the interior.

        • Daniel R. Martin says:

          I hear you man. Today my other team, the Falcons, picked up O-Linemen Gabe Carimi who was taken by the Bears with the 29th overall pick in the 2011 draft. This will be his third team in as many years. Now I fully recognize that draft busts happen at every position. And I understand just how important a quality O-Line is to every team. But, I just think that decent offensive linemen are more easily found throughout the later draft rounds and through free agency than are the so called “skill” positions. Look at the number one and two overall picks in the most recent draft. I don’t think Fischer played well enough to start many games, including their playoff game, down the stretch. He may have been injured. I don’t know.

          But is it accurate to say that the drop off in talent from a 1st round draft pick offensive lineman to a third or fourth round is far less significant than that of a tight end or wide receiver?

        • acm says:

          The thing is BB doesn’t value the so called “skill” positions much, if at all. With the precarious situation of the passing O and the TE position, I can see him make an exception for someone like Amaro at 29 but certainly not trade up for him.

          Ultimately, there will be a very limited array of individual talent he would be willing to take at 29 instead of trading down and even fewer players for whom he would trade up. If he likes a particular player and his fit in the Pats system, however, depth at the position would matter little. it’s true that there is good depth at OL this year but Martin represents a rather unique player with his blend of leadership, technique, short range athleticism and power. Not many of these are likely to be found later on in any draft. In the end of the day, good and even very good, doesn’t equal great. As you pointed yourself out, busts can happen at any stage in the draft (but decidedly more so in the later rounds, where finding special players, while not impossible, isn’t very likely) … which in itself makes that a non-argument. There is always a risk, but if you think you’ve got your guy, you just have to go out and get him.

          Another reason why I think martin could end up being a player targeted by the Pats is the state of the OL-ne in general – their top players right now are Mankns (32 yo) and Vollmer (30), both of whom have been having injury issues over the past several years and may not last for much longer. Non-coincidentally, they are two of the three (also Solder) OL-man BB has drafted relatively high in the draft (1st or 2nd round) in the past 8-10 years, iirc. The point is, the OLine will very soon need a change of guard at both leadership and quality, which could make special players like Martin very valuable in BB’s eyes to the point of where he does the unthinkable and trades up.

        • Daniel R. Martin says:

          Those are all very valid points. I accept that Martin would be a great acquisition for the Pats. But even Belichick must secretly know that when Brady is done playing, the team will be fractionally as competitive as they’ve invariably been. That being said, what positional overhaul will be most crucial to the teams ability to win a Superbowl this season and next? Not four years from now.

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