The 2014 NFL draft started out as expected. Then the Jacksonville Jaguars dropped a bomb when they took Blake Bortles with the third pick of the draft. After that, it was game on as the draft produced a fun mix of anticipated picks and jaw-dropping surprises.
By the time the Dallas Cowboys came on the board at pick 16, they had a variety of choices to fill one of the many gaping holes at safety and offensive line in a continued attempt to improve on the perpetual 8-8 hamster wheel of a record this team is currently trapped on.
Zack Martin is a future team leader. He’s exactly the kind of player Jason Garrett wants to have on the Cowboys roster.
Then there was Johnny Manziel — a pick that would make no sense but would give Jerry Jones the splash he always covets. In reality, the Cowboys had no shot at Manziel. Tony Romo’s contract makes him virtually untradeable and nearly as hard to cut due to the salary cap hit.
Logic has never been a strong part of Jones’ general manager skills, however, and you just got a feeling that as the Cowboys discussed their options for the pick, Jones looked like Roger Rabbit after the shave and a haircut knock as he tried to contain his yearning to draft Johnny Football.
It made for great theater, but in the end the Cowboys went the road (too often) less traveled and took possibly the safest pick left on the board: Zack Martin of Notre Dame. The offensive lineman can play at either tackle or guard and, although not an overpowering presence, will make life a lot easier for Tony Romo.
Martin is a technically sound lineman who is flexible and can get into a blocking stance quickly. He is athletic enough to pull and lead block on various running plays. He’s smart and has started every game of his Notre Dame career, so he is a seasoned veteran of line play.
Most important, he has outstanding intangibles. He’s a highly respected worker in the weight room and is a coveted “locker room” guy, meaning he’s a future team leader. He’s exactly the kind of player Jason Garrett wants to have on the Cowboys roster.
He doesn’t have great size — a statement that sounds asinine considering Martin is 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds. He lacks the ideal strength of a lineman and could have trouble with powerful defensive lineman bull rushing him. If the Cowboys want to him to play guard, he will need to bulk up and put muscle on his frame.
The bottom line:
Martin is a smart, athletic lineman who will bring all sorts of positive traits to the Cowboys. He’s not a flashy splash pick that Jones so often likes to make, but to win in the NFL, you have to have some substance behind the flash.
The Cowboys, thankfully, made a solid, football-oriented pick.