Mike Martin - DT - Michigan, 6-1, 306 lb
Mike Martin might have been one of the most enjoyable players to watch when I was catching the DT drills at Combine. I caught sight of him in some of the hand power drills, and it only took a minute to remember some of his games at Michigan. He also got consistently good reviews during Senior Bowl practices and stood out in both one-on-one drills and during team scrimmages.
He isn’t in the top tier of players, and he probably won’t go all that high. After watching him, I think that could be a bit of a mistake. Martin carries a seriously nasty punch that he fires from an incredible stance - low and powerful, using that naturally short, incredibly strong frame. He had fast, hammering movements and devastating strikes. Said Warren Sapp, ‘I dare you to cut him’. I thought that Warren’s got it right. That punch will leave linemen black and blue right through their pads.
Martin was a high school wrestler and he has the physique that’s something close to a 306-pound light heavyweight. He seems to completely understand two things - leverage and utter, total commitment. If he’s making a move, he’s going to make that move. He will put everything he has into it. He gets it that technique makes you dangerous. His conditioning was nothing short of impressive, and I wrestled before I trained in Eastern arts - I was used to being around very highly trained individuals, and he still stood out. While his hand speed is exceptional, a lack of footspeed is a weakness that could limit him at the next level. Yet, it's common that very good role players aren’t all that fast. If you’ve got a slot for a role player like him in your scheme, he’s the kind of guy that can give you consistently good run-stopping downs. He probably won’t give you sacks, but he can clog a line and push a pocket if that’s your need.
He reminds me of nothing so much as two other total-commitment players - Texans DE Connor Barwin, who’s often a force in his own right, and Bear Pascoe, the former (and future) rodeo cowboy and Super Bowl-winning TE, on a team that was seemingly designed to appreciate talents like him: Tough, trained, conditioned, committed, well coached, and aggressive. You might overdraft him just a little. Give him three years of NFL training - and he won’t disappoint you in that meantime - and then just get the heck out of his way, if you use him right. You’ll probably find ways to use him the first year. I did bios on both Barwin and Pascoe, and I watched their games and YouTube highlight tapes, whatever I could get, and have followed both of them ever since. They were incredibly raw and they defined commitment - you could see it, you could hear it in their voices, and I loved that same quality in them. While he has some potential limits, Martin also has it. You’ll never regret putting him on your team. He’ll carry that same kind of energy into the locker, weight, and film rooms.
I don’t know if he’ll be a Pro Bowler, but I don’t think anyone will ever want to take a play off when they’re going up against him - or playing next to him.
And, big kudos to Brett Roy for the great Combine beard - he’s another high-motor kind of guy.