Combine is critical to how Michigan's Mike Martin stacks up in loaded DT draft
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Mike Martin is one of more than 300 players who will descend upon Indianapolis this week, each trying to prove his mettle and wit to NFL brass.
He has more at stake than a lot of them.
Martin was a four-year contributor for the Michigan football team, and he missed only one start in his final three years. He became a star, despite playing for two of the Wolverines' all-time worst defenses in 2009 and '10.
As a senior, Martin was one of the most disruptive players in the Big Ten and anchored a resurgent defense that finished 17th in the country.
Scouts like him, too. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, one of the best in the business, said he thinks Martin will "be tough to get rid of. He’ll be in a rotation."
It's not a matter of whether Martin will be drafted, but when. And that's the tricky part, as he is a member of one of the deepest defensive tackle classes in years.
Mayock, though, said Martin could climb into the early rounds with a strong combine."I think he'll be helped at the combine because he's an athletic, quick kid, and I think he'll show well," Mayock added. "I think what the combine will show, I'm guessing, his strength on the field will translate to the weight room, and we're going to see a really strong kid that also moves well athletically.
"When you combine those two things, the nice thing for him is I think the 3-4 teams will think he's strong enough to anchor on the nose, and I think the 4-3 teams will see that he's quick enough to play defensive tackle for them."
Martin will be part of a three-man Michigan contingent at the combine. He will be joined by center David Molk and receiver Junior Hemingway, each of whom will have a four-day cycle to audition for NFL clubs via physical and mental tests, as well as one-on-one interviews.
Molk's four-day run begins Wednesday. Hemingway follows on Thursday, and Martin gets under way Friday.
Martin stands 6-foot-1, which is not prototypical size for an NFL defensive lineman. However, his brute strength makes him an attractive pro talent, and he's weighing an impressive 307 pounds.
He said a strong showing at the Senior Bowl in January quieted some of the doubts regarding his size.
"There were a few question marks about me, I guess, about me overall, and to go there and play against the nation’s best and do as well as I did opened up a lot of eyes," Martin said by phone recently.
"I was one of the best, physically in-shape tackles there, I was moving around great and I was doing very well against guys in one-on-ones. There’s nothing I feel like they can pin on me when it comes to my height, besides being what it is. So, it’s not hurting me."
Martin, a two-time strength and conditioning All-American, said he's in the best shape of his life after working out for the combine with former Michigan strength coach Mike Barwis.
He's expected to threaten the bench-press record that was set last year by former Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea (49 reps at 225 pounds).
Martin said the Houston Texans have expressed the most interest in him so far, but several other teams have been in contact with him and agent Rick Smith as well.
He is the No. 13 defensive tackle according to ESPN, up from No. 15 in December. He is No. 10 according to CBS, up from 14th in December, and he has climbed 51 spots in the overall rankings to No. 96.
Last year, the 13th tackle was taken in the fourth round. The 10th went in third round. But again, this year's talent pool is much deeper.
This week will say a lot about whether Martin's stock sinks or swims.