Could Martin fall to the Steelers? Mandatory Credit: Jim Z. Rider-US PRESSWIRE

Could Jonathan Martin Fall to the Steelers at #24? If So, Should They Take Him?


Each and every offseason, there are always a few talented 1st Round-worthy prospects whose stocks (for whatever reasons) fluctuate and sometimes slip a bit on Draft Day.  One current draft prospect whose stock in particular has been slipping a tad over the last month or so has been Stanford’s talented Offensive Tackle Jonathan Martin who was thought to be a Top 10 pick by many when the 2011 season ended.  That being said, after I read Charley Casserly of NFL.com’s (former G.M. of the Redskins and Texans) most recent Mock Draft, he actually had Stanford’s talented Tackle falling to the Steelers at #24.  Granted, it’s one Mock Draft, but because Martin’s stock has indeed been slipping in recent weeks, I began to consider the possibility of a player of Martin’s caliber actually being available at #24 in Round 1.  So, today I feel like it would be a good idea to explain why Martin has been sliding down draft boards as of late, ask and determine if it is cause for concern or not, explore the possibility of whether or not Martin could fall to Pittsburgh, take a quick look at the Steelers’ current Offensive Line/Tackle situation, and finally discuss whether or not Pittsburgh should take Martin if he is indeed on the board at #24.  Let’s get started shall we:

 

 

Introduction: Do The Steelers Need Help at Tackle?

The answer to the question above is a resounding yes in my opinion.  As I alluded to in a previous article, while Tackle might not be the most pressing of all needs for Pittsburgh, it’s still a pretty darn big question mark heading into 2012.  I mean, take a look at what the Steelers have heading into this season: Talented 2nd Year man Marcus Gilbert appears to be stepping into the Left Tackle spot because Max Starks is coming off a knee injury, but Gilbert played most of last season at Right Tackle and now will be faced with the responsibility of protecting Big Ben’s blind-side.  As for Right Tackle, the oft-injured and usually inconsistent Willie Colon will be hopefully coming back after logging only 1 start in the last two years.  Plus, Jonathan Scott will likely be the #3 guy, and that is reason alone for concern for an Offensive Line as a whole that gave up 42 Sacks last season.  With all of the question marks surrounding the Tackle position, Pittsburgh sure could use some stability at the position and a natural Left Tackle to help shore up the Line.  Luckily for the Steelers, Stanford’s Jonathan Martin’s (a once projected Top 10 pick) stock is slipping a bit, and he might be in range for Pittsburgh to select.

 

Martin’s Unfortunate Offseason

Missing The Combine, and a subpar performance at his Pro Day are the two biggest reasons why Jonathan Martin sliding down draft boards right now.  In terms of wowing scouts at the “Underpants Olympics,” Martin did not improve his stock in Indianapolis when he came down with an illness he attributed to food poisoning and did not participate in drills.  To make things worse, Martin had himself an unimpressive Pro Day where he only put up a 5.33 time in the 40 and only 20 reps in the Bench Press (225 lbs.).  Granted, it’s never super to come up short when the off-season workout lights are shining, but Martin’s poor workouts could be a blessing in disguise for Pittsburgh if he does slide.  And personally, I’m not overly worried about the low Bench numbers and “slow” 40 time.

While it can be a bit alarming to see a supposedly highly rated Tackle put up that number of reps., strength can be honed much easier than technique as a Tackle in pass protection and run blocking which Martin actually has.  At 6’5” and with 34″ arms, Martin could add a bit more mass to his frame (10 lbs.) and has room to work on his raw upper body strength over the course of his career.  While it will not be a walk in the park, helping a player add strength is what strength and conditioning programs for N.F.L. teams are all about.  As for the 40 though, I’m even less worried.  How many “Go” Routes will Martin be running in the N.F.L.?  Granted, I’d like every Offensive Lineman to be a “track-star,” but 5.33 is nothing to scoff at for a guy weighing in the neighborhood of 315 lbs..  While it is a tad discomforting to see players under-perform, I would much rather select a player that has shown that they can succeed on a high level and on a consistent basis on film during real live competition (Martin), as opposed to a champion of The Combine workouts that has raw skills, but loads of bad tape.

 

Which Teams Could Target Martin? & Why They Could Pass

Bad performances during offseason workout aside, Martin is still a 1st Round talent, and there are some teams in the 13-23 range that are in need of Tackles like #13 Arizona, #18 San Diego, #19 Chicago, #22 Cleveland, #23 Detroit which could target him.  Nevertheless, these teams have other needs and draft strategies of their own, and it would not shock me if they passed on Martin.

Each team could go after another position of need like Inside Linebacker or Wide Receiver for the Cardinals (Luke Kuechly or Michael Floyd), Pass Rushing Outside Linebacker for San Diego (Courtney Upshaw, Nick Perry, Whitney Mercilus), Wide Receiver or Pass Rushing Defensive End for Chicago or Cleveland (Kendall Wright, Stephen Hill, Perry, Mercilus), and finally Defensive End or Cornerback for Detroit (Perry, Mercilus, Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins).

Or, if these specific teams decide to draft an Offensive Lineman, they could find themselves taking other 1st Round prospects not named Martin all together.  Riley Reiff of Iowa, the versatile OG/OT Cordy Glenn of Georgia, have 1st Round grades, and Mike Adams of Ohio State has 1st Round talent and for whatever reason (blocking scheme, coaching staff preference, versatility, upside, etc.) might end up being selected before Martin hears his name called.  With more options to choose from plus multiple needs for every team, the greater the chance Martin has to stay on the board until pick #24.

 

Should Pittsburgh Take Martin? & Final Thoughts

Granted, quite a bit has to go right for the Steelers to be in a position to select Martin with the 24th pick.  But if Martin is indeed on the board at #24, Pittsburgh has to at least consider a few things about him:  He’s a player that started 37 games at Left Tackle for a major college program and protected the blind-side of one of the best collegiate signal callers in the last two decades.  Martin is also a two time All-Pac 10 (12) first team selection and helped the Cardinal become one of college football’s best Offenses over the last 3 years  Bad workouts aside, from the games I’ve watched Martin play however, he’s definitely strong enough and nimble enough to warrant a 1st Round pick.  Watching him and David DeCastro in the run game was awesome, and I saw them first-hand help the Cardinal put almost 250 rushing yards last season against Arizona and run for almost 211 Yards Per Game in 2011 overall.

Protecting Big Ben is a must for this franchise, and because  Pittsburgh usually selects so late in the Draft, and has over the last decade, elite Left Tackle prospects are really not in the neighborhood for them in Round 1.  A player like Martin falling to them at #24 could be too good to pass up, and would definitely warrant a selection over more “need” positions (especially ones with deep classes this year) like Guard, Inside Linebacker, and Nose Tackle which can be found in later Rounds of this specific Draft.

It might be wishful thinking to believe that Martin could fall to #24 (they could trade up for a Tackle or Guard), but stranger things have happened in Round 1 on Draft Days.  I personally would like to see some stability on the Offensive Line for Pittsburgh in the coming years, because Big Ben has at least 5 more seasons left in his “prime” and of course could benefit from being protected better.  It could be more or it could be less, but it sure would be nice to see Roethlisberger drop back to pass and not fear for him.  With the weapons he has at his disposal, and “Bubble Screen Wizard” Bruce Arians out of the picture, Big Ben could flourish if he indeed an upgrade in the protection department.  Whatever happens though, I’ve got faith as always in Colbert & Co. to do what is right and acquire yet another hit in Round 1.

 

Now it’s your turn readers.  Will Martin be available at #24?  Should the Steelers take Martin if he is available?  Should Pittsburgh target another Lineman in Round 1?  Let me know.  I’m interested.

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  • craig.nicepickcowher

    I think Martin has a chance to be around, but I’m not counting on it.  Even if he is, the pool of people at linebacker is thinner than guard or tackle.  Hightower has that potential to be ‘special’ on this team because of his familiarity with the 3-4 already.  I have a hard time seeing the Steelers pass someone like this up.  But, as you said, stranger things have happened on Draft Day Round 1.  I would be happy with either pick.

  • DomDiTolla

     @craig.nicepickcowher Don’t get me wrong, if Hightower is “the guy” they want at #24 then he’s a great selection and it would be tough to argue.  But if Martin (or even Cordy Glenn) is available at that spot it might get a little interesting.  Mychal Kendricks could be an option for the Steelers in Round 2 if they decide to pass on Hightower or if he is off the board though.

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  • JohnJStewart

    I’ve been screaming O-line for the past 5 drafts and while I would like to see Martin or Glenn in Black & Gold, I would prefer to see Hightower & Silatolu in 1&2 Vs Martin/Glenn and Kendricks. There’s more depth with solid players across the O-line in this year’s draft than there are ILB’s who are even close to Hightower. He does have that ‘special’ quality about him. (Like Kendrick’s skill & competitiveness but he looks so small!) There certainly is the chance that Hightower is gone at #24. So, would you prefer Martin, Adams, or Glenn? Or as a wild card…Shea McClellin, who has played in the middle before.

  • DomDiTolla

     @JohnJStewart I apologize if I ramble trying to address everything, but you raise some great points/questions John.
     
    The reason I like Kendricks come Round 2 is that he is a bit quicker than Hightower, can hold his own in Pass Coverage, and he has experience as an OLB and in a 3-4 and 4-3 schemes while at California as well.  True, his frame is probably maxed out (5’11″ 240 lbs.), but he’s a tough guy, and as long as he stays healthy he should be a solid ILB at the next level.  Plus, Kendricks’ blitzing ability could be utilized well when LeBeau and Butler elect to use him through the A Gap to harass the QB’s when they employ exotic sets.
     
    In terms of Which Offensive Lineman that I prefer in Round 1, they all bring something different to the table and project best at different positions (in my opinion), but I would be thrilled if they acquired either of them.  Here’s my thoughts on the three:
     
    If you’re looking for a solid Left Tackle that you can plug and play for a decade it would definitely be Martin. 3 year starter at Stanford and can road-grade in the run game.  Could stand to add 10 lbs. and some upper-body strength, but almost 6’6″ frame can be added onto rather easily, and he has solid technique and footwork.
     
    If you want a Right Tackle only that will maul in the run game, but can fill in for a pinch on the Left due to injury of ineffectiveness and do a solid job, then Adams is the guy.  He also has the size Pittsburgh covets in their Tackles, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they took him at #24 in a B.P.A. scenario.
     
    If you want a guy that has the most versatility and can play either Guard or Tackle spot then Glenn should be the selection.  I see Glenn more as a Guard (either spot but moreso Right) due to his frame and where his athleticism projects the best, but he would be a solid selection for his jack-of-all-trades nature and the fact he can be moved around if injuries strike at an alarming rate.
     
    Plus either of these guys would give you more immediate production than Silatolu would.  In the long run, I believe that Silatolu might have as good if not better upside along the Offensive Line, but adjusting to the pro game and the speed, plus the fact he might not start until late Year 2 puts him behind the guys above.  If Pittsburgh goes his direction in Round 2, I’m totally on board though.
     
    As for McClellin, I wouldn’t take a chance on him before Round 3 if I’m Pittsburgh.  OLB is not as set in my opinion as most people think, but for a tweener DE/OLB with average speed and strength, McClellin is too much of a risk to take in Round 1 in my personal opinion.  They’ve got Woodley locked up long-term, so it doesn’t make too much sense to add someone like him on the other side.  I’d rather go with a developmental speed guy with deceptive strength and versatility in the “Deebo” mold come Rounds 4-6 if they do decide to go OLB, and I’m pretty high on former Aztec Miles Burris (who can play Inside as well) but that’s my take.

  • LOTUSMAN1

    Why NOT??  If Cordy Glenn of Georgia  is gone, select Martin… We have a “NEED” @ the Left Tackle position, that REALLY has NOT been solidified for the last DECADE!!!   Martin blocked the “Blind Side” for Andrew Luck with “AMAZING” efficiency over the last two seasons. He “allowed” TWO total sacks & ONE tackle behind the line of scrimmage on his side!   If he can HELP keep “Big Ben” upright, & “clean” in the pocket… “THE SKY IS THE LIMIT” for OUR Steelers in the upcoming years!
     
    “THE SKY” being “Seventh Heaven” OUR SEVENTH Lombardi Trophy!  
     
    ** It is worthy to note that despite being “sacked” an awful 135 times over the last THREE Seasons, & MORE TIMES than ANY other Quarterback in the N.F.L. since 2007!
     
     I am attending The Draft for the FIRST time this year!  As a 36-Year Season Ticket holder and attendee of SIX of OUR Steelers Super Bowl appearances (5 WINS & 1 LOSS), it gives me “great pleasure” to attend as a REPRESENTATIVE of “Steeler Nation!!”
     
     RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,
     
    MICHAEL S. MARSHALL
     
       DAYTON, OHIO

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  • jollyrob68

     @JohnJStewart I’m liking Shea McCullenn.. I like the Hightower & Silatolu or Brandon Brooks/Brandon Washington.
    Something about Martin I dont like. However if you take Martin then you can keep gilbert on the right. Push Colon inside and grab Brandon Brooks or washington in the 3rd.
     
    MArtin,Kendricks & Brooks /Washington Or Hightower,Bobby Massie & Brooks’Washington?

  • LOTUSMAN1

     @jollyrob68  NICE THINKING!!   VERY GOOD COMBINATIONS YOU ARE PROPOSING!  I WAS @ THE MIAMI (OF OHIO) “PRO DAY”, & OG BRANDON BROOKS ACTUALLY “BOWLED OVER” A STEELERS SCOUT DURING A “DRIVE BLOCKING DRILL”… THIS HAS MADE A “LASTING IMPRESSION” ON THE STEELERS & THEY BROUGHT HIM IN TO WORK WITH THE OFFENSIVE LINE COACH OVER TWO DAYS, TWO TWO-HOUR SESSIONS… I HAVE THOROUGHLY “CONVINCED” THAT THEY WILL SELECT HIM IN ROUND #3 IF HE IS STILL ON THE BIG-BOARD!  MY COUSIN WORKS AS AN ASSISTANT IN THE “FRONT OFFICE” (SCOUTING DEPARTMENT), & THIS IS WHERE I RECEIVE MY “INSIDER” INFORMATION. ALSO ON THEIR “RADAR” IS OREGON RUNNING BACK LaMICHAEL JAMES!!  ALTHOUGH @ 5’9″ & ONLY 195lbs., THE STEELERS FEEL THAT HIS INATE ABILITY TO FIND THE HOLE & “BOUNCE IT” OUTSIDE, AS WELL AS LOWER HIS SHOULDER AND “FORCE” CONTACT RATHER THAN ABSORB IT, COMBINED WITH HIS “RETURN SKILLS”, MAKE HIM A “NECESSITY” IF AVAILABLE IN ROUND #4. THERE IS ALSO TALK OF “PACKAGING ALL 3 “COMPENSATORY PICKS & A 5TH ROUND PICK IN ORDER TO ACQUIRE A SECOND 3RD ROUND PICK!  THEY ARE LOOKING FOR A SAFETY, AND “QUALITY” BACK-UP QUARTERBACK TO “GROOM” OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF SEASONS!  THERE IS NOT ENOUGH SALARY-CAP ROOM (EVEN THOUGH THE STEELERS NOW ARE RANKED #14 IN AVAILABLE $$$$), FOR THEM TO SIGN 10 PLAYERS. AND STILL TRY TO PUT TOGETHER A “LONG TERM DEAL” FOR WIDE RECEIVER ANTONIO BROWN… THE DECISION @ THIS POINT IS TO NOT NEGOTIATE ANY FURTHER OFFERS FOR MIKE WALLACE!!
     
    RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,
     
    ***MICHAEL S. MARSHALL
         DAYTON, OHIO 
    ***= A 36 YEAR SEASON TICKET HOLDER

  • DomDiTolla

     @LOTUSMAN1 Wow.  I mean, wow, so much to say yet so little, and in so many capital letters.  Not sure if you or your “cousin” knows this, but it is actually illegal to trade compensatory picks.  Not sure who in the front office is feeding “him” this “information,” but maybe you and him should consult a rule book concerning the draft.  But I’m sure you two already knew that, like when you discussed ad nauseum that Wallace would be signed and you had “insider” information on his supposed contract, and “insider” information on the team visiting Carl Nicks and trying to sign him when they clearly had no cap space and both moves clearly made no sense.
     
    Also, the draft value chart makes a deal of 3 7′s and one 5 for a 3 completely lopsided, and the team’s G.M. dealing the 3 would have to be off his rocker to make such a deal.  Not a snowball’s chance in hell a trade like that would go down, and the G.M. dealing the 3 would be vilified worse than Matt Millen.
     
    (P.S., LaMichael James will be off the board before the Steelers pick in Round 3.)
     
    Thanks though.
     
    Dom

  • jollyrob68

     @LOTUSMAN1 
    If they move out of the first round and trade with Rams for #39 & 65 or Miami for 42,72 and 5th rd 145. They can loadup on the oline/dline plus get the RB they want.

  • LOTUSMAN1

     @jollyrob68   EXCELLENT “THINKING”… They have however moved themselves into #14 on the Salary Cap availability list!!  I want LaMichael James from OREGON!!  Yes, he is a “scat” back, but DYNAMIC!!!  And he “delivers” the blow when hit, NOT absorbs it!!!

  • jollyrob68

     @LOTUSMAN1  WE had James & Peads in for a visit so I think we’ll get one of them unless Lamaar Miller is there in the second. It’s said that Tomlin loves him. Another reason to maybe move out of the first and pickup another 2nd &3rd.