In Hindsight: Zack Martin may be the next Larry Allen


The drafting of Zack Martin last season was not without controversy. After all, an offensive linemen doesn’t garner anywhere near the level of excitement or marketability as a QB, but this pick may go down as one of the best in years…

Generally speaking, using a first round pick on a guard, is not thought of as a good use of resources. The thinking has recently been, that first round picks should be reserved for the skill and cornerstone players. If an offensive lineman is going to get picked in round one, it should be a left tackle. But that line of thinking is changing, and you can thank Zack Martin for that.

Before this year, the Cowboys have picked a left tackle, center, and a guard, in 3 of the last 4 drafts. They recently placed a premium value on offensive linemen, and to compensate, they are devaluating elsewhere (RB). The selection of Zack Martin only reinforced this line of thinking.

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t go into the draft determined to pick the OG/OT from Notre Dame. They were honestly hoping other players would be available. When those players were not, they stuck to their draft board and picked Zack Martin. Since then, Zack Martin has made them look brilliant.

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Zack Martin’s rookie year was nothing short of spectacular. Logging 1076 snaps, Martin ranked as the sixth highest rated guard in the NFL according to

Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

He was the highest rated pass-protecting guard in the NFL, and wasn’t credited (discredited?) with giving up a single sack. Since pressure up the middle is Tony Romo’s single biggest weakness, this was a very important statistic.

Zack Martin came to the NFL by storm and displayed the power, technique, and athleticism uncommon to most rookie offensive linemen. Linemen usually take time to develop. They typically need a season or two in the weight room before they can really make a difference. Zack Martin is not most linemen.

Earning All-Pro honors in his rookie season, it’s easy to draw the parallel between him and Hall of Famer Larry Allen. Like Allen, Martin has position versatility and is able to fill in on the outside (right tackle) in a jam. Like Larry Allen, he’s better suited for the middle and has a chance to be the best of his generation.

Too soon to dub Zack Martin “the next Larry Allen”?

Of course it is, but he has that kind of potential, and that is extremely noteworthy. In hindsight, Zack Martin was an amazing pick and the Dallas Cowboys would do again in a heartbeat. All picks aren’t this easy to judge only one year later.

If the Cowboys can repeat this kind of success next week in the 2015 NFL Draft, they may just have a Super Bowl to play for in February.

I’ve already graded the 2015 NFL Draft, admittedly prematurely, but now is the perfect time to turn focus on last years’ class, since we have a year’s worth of knowledge under our belts. and   Over the next few days, we will look at the Cowboys’ draft picks from last season, from the advantageous position of hindsight. Too bad they weren’t all this easy to judge.

Zack Martin: A

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