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Posted on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

NFL scout: Michigan defensive lineman Mike Martin will be an early-round draft pick

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin (68) is projected to be an early-round NFL draft choice.

Melanie Maxwell |

The Michigan football program used to be a factory for NFL draft picks.

And, while that pipeline has slowed the past three years, the Wolverines will produce a few notable pro prospects this year.

Defensive tackle Mike Martin is the strongest candidate of them all.

“I think Mike Martin showed a lot of the qualities that the NFL looks for, and that’s a strong, tough, smart, hard-nosed football player," Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said this week.

"I know a lot of people will probably want to talk to me about him."

Mattison's evaluation is meaningful because, not only was he Martin's coordinator this year, but he also spent the past three years with the Baltimore Ravens. He coached several All-Pro players, including star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

So, Mattison would know an NFL-caliber defensive tackle when he sees one.


Mike Martin had 54 tackles and three sacks this season for Michigan.

Melanie Maxwell |

Of course, Mattison also isn't exactly objective, since he and Martin forged a close personal relationship in the past year, but scouts agree with his appraisal.

One NFL scout for a perennial playoff franchise told that Martin is Michigan's strongest prospect, and that he is considered in pro circles to be an early-round pick.

The scout said Martin doesn't fit his team's philosophy for defensive tackle, because Martin, although exceptionally strong, is short (listed at 6-foot-2) and his reach is compact.

"But he’s strong, he’s tough, and he plays his butt off," the scout added. "He's quick, too, and well-coached. He's not your prototypical tackle — he's just a little short — but we like him a lot."

Martin had 54 tackles this year, including 5.5 for loss and three sacks, and finished his career with 162 tackles and 9.5 sacks. He was a consensus second-team all-Big Ten performer this year and a three-time Michigan defensive lineman of the year.

His best attribute is his raw strength. He said he already can bench press 225 pounds 40 times — something just six players have done in the past six years at the NFL combine.

"There’s no one in college football as strong as Mike Martin, I’d be wiling to bet," fellow defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen said earlier this year.

Martin also has very good footwork and handwork, and has benefited in his technique from his wrestling background. He was a two-time state champion at Detroit Catholic Central High School.

Mattison's hire in January also helped Martin's pro chances, as Mattison has an expertise in coaching the position. He refined Martin's technique and intensified his film study -- which included old Ravens tape in the preseason.

ESPN ranks Martin as the 15th-best defensive tackle prospect. They gush about his strength, speed and intangibles, and list his weaknesses as pass rushing and durability.

CBS ranks him 14th at his position and 147th overall.

He's not an ideal NFL prospect, then, and his frame might scare off some teams. But his brute strength, intelligence and high motor means he likely will be chosen on the first day of the NFL draft.

"The sky’s the limit from me, as far as him," Mattison said. "I think he’s going to be an outstanding football player, if he decides to keep playing.”

Michigan had one player chosen on Day 1 last year — linebacker Jonas Mouton was taken in the second round by the San Diego Chargers — and another in 2010 — defensive end Brandon Graham was chosen in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Overall, though, the Wolverines' pipeline to the NFL slowed in the past three drafts, with only two players taken in 2009 and '11 and three in 2010.

In the preceding 10 years, Michigan dipped below four picks in only two drafts, and never below three. It averaged 4.8 picks per year, and had six in 2008, the final draft of the Lloyd Carr era.

This year, Martin and center David Molk are expected to be drafted, and tight end Kevin Koger also is likely to be taken. An AFC scout said his athleticism and catching ability are big pluses, but his blocking needs to improve.

Koger's statistics aren't great -- he had a career-high 21 catches for 235 yards and four touchdowns this year, and finished with 57 catches for his career -- but he also was a victim of circumstance. He played three seasons in the spread-option, which doesn't target tight ends in the passing game, and then the Wolverines' passing game was erratic this year in the new spread-West Coast offense.

The scout said Koger likely won't be punished for those numbers because he's proved he has good hands.

Receiver Junior Hemingway and defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen also could be pro candidates, either as late-round picks or undrafted free agents.

But Martin clearly is the best prospect of them all.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

Ahead of Worthy?


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

I think Mike Martin will go to the New England Patriots at the end of round 2. He is a perfect fit for the 4-3 base next to Wilfork, and is quick enough to back out into short coverage. He is the perfect package of motor, smarts, and toughness that Belichick salivates over.

Nic schweigert

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

I like your thinking. Huge Michigan fan, loving seeing them get drafted. Big pats fan too. Would love to have Martin to sure up that d-line. Now if the pats could draft every good Michigan player, what a wonderful world that'd be


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

If the Pats switch back to a 3-4 I think he'll be good as well mainly due to his strength matching up almost perfectly with the responsibilities of a 3-4 lineman


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

I am SO happy for Mike. He's such a hard worker, great leader and plays 100% each game. He deserves everything good that comes his way! GO BLUE!!!


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

The stats about NFL draftees from UM is puzzling. Were the last 3 years so low because there were no players, or is it because they were not coached well enough to make the leap? Does anybody know how many WVU players went pro in 2001-2007 for comparison? (Kyle?) Or is this really the "cupboard is bare" argument? (I don't buy that argument personally, because the stats for all of LC's years were all pretty consistent within normal fluctuation, but it may have some legs depending). I love Martin, but short arms in the pros do not bode well. Brandon Graham got injured, but he is hated by the Eagles fan base as a "bust", and he was a sure beet coming out. I personally think that Koger will be the best of the bunch, and Junior Hemingway may have something also. Molk would likely be too small, as center is a tough position going against these Suh-sized type beasts.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

Thanks for doing the research and posting. Looking at those numbers from WVU over eight years, perhaps it wasn't a "cupboard being bare" thing, but more of the same from the WCIMFH. Maybe just maybe he doesn't develop players well enough for the NFL. Certainly, only 1 first round pick in 8 years, no second round picks would imply to me that his system and players do not fit NFL (though admittedly, WVU had success with them). Of course, NFL ready does not equal winning college football program, but it sure does help. And ironically, Ryan Mundy was a Michigan guy before his fifth year transfer, so does WVU get credit or should Michigan?


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

Thanks, DonAZ. Very helpful website. I had forgotten about Terrance Taylor. He was another good defensive lineman for U-M that made it to the NFL but wasn't able to make the final cut with the Colts and bounced around the league on different practice squads before finding his niche in Arena ball.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

From: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> NFL draft selections from West Virginia, 2001 - 2008 Year, Round, Selection, Name, Position 2008, 3, 89, Steve Slaton, RB 2008, 5, 163, Owen Schmitt, FB 2008, 6, 194, Ryan Mundy, FS 2007 - none 2006, 6, 179, Dee McCann, CB 2005, 1, 6, Pacman Jones, CB 2005, 3, 83, Chris Henry, WR 2005, 5, 174, Rasheed Marshall, WR 2004, 7, 219, Quincy Wilson, RB 2003, 4, 130, Lance Nimmo, T 2003, 5, 144, James Davis, LB 2002 - none 2001 - none I included 2008 because in fairness they were RR's players. I'm surprised by the number of defensive players ... credit Jeff Casteel.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

The only recent U-M defensive lineman who has had a good NFL career that I can think of is Lamarr Woodley. I think Alan Branch has done ok for the Seahawks, too, but hasn't stood out as an All-Pro yet. Gabe Watson played a few unremarkable years for the Cardinals until he got hurt. The most successful former U-M players continue to be Tom Brady, Charles Woodson, Lamarr Woodley, followed by Steve Hutchinson and a bunch of others. I think the past three years were lower in numbers for U-M because they had lost of lot NFL prospects via graduation and transfer before and when RR took over. Should be back to normal soon, I would think.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

NO doubt!!! Should've been considered for da HEISMAN! Is it possible to trade the U-M Alumni Association-organized prize package valued at approximately $4,200 which includes Luggage handling, porterage at the airport and the hotel, Optional tours, outings and excursions, Luggage tags, document wallet and engraved Sugar Bowl name badge for a trip to the Heisman ceremony?? I will be there to represent all of us when Mike Martin accepts the award!!


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

Mundy was terrible at Michigan, that credit should go 100% to Casteel and RR (I'm assuming Gibson had nothing to do with that one), the cupboard was definitely not the typical Michigan assortment of talent although I think there were a few gems left behind and really the decent to good players were the part lacking.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Staying in school and playing his senior was a win-win for Martin and for U-M. For Mike, he was able to learn under a former professional defensive coordinator and improve his NFL draft standing in the process. U-M also greatly benefitied from his decision to stay in that Martin's leadership and talent were key factors in the improvement of the defense. Another key was that he played a position where U-M didn't have a lot of quality depth. I don't remember him getting hurt this year, either, which is a big plus and helps his draft status. He may be a bit undersized as a pro tackle, but with his quickness I could see him also as a potential defensive end in the NFL.