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Mike Martin Could Be Steal of 2012 NFL Draft: A Fan's Take

Yahoo Contributor Network

Everyone knew Mike Martin was freakishly strong and one of the better defensive tackles in the U.S., but most of the country didn't quite realize just how athletic he was until the NFL combine this week.

Martin opened eyes with his athleticism this week, as ESPN noted in an article on Feb. 28 about his performance in Indianapolis.

His 40 time was top five among DTs, and his vertical leap was impressive along with his broad jump, 3-cone drill and more. His 20-yard shuttle time was also second among all DTs and even sixth among defensive linemen, the article states.

As someone who watched Martin play his entire career at Michigan, these stats are not surprising to me. Martin always didn't get the credit he deserved for his athletic ability, as most people just focused on how strong he was at all times.

He also just got done working out with one of the best in the business, Mike Barwis, the former Michigan strength coach who now has his own training facility in Plymouth, Mich., and has settled in nicely since Rich Rodriguez's departure from Ann Arbor.

Martin came into the combine in tip top shape and ready to impress at the drills--and it's showing. In addition to strength, he also plays with amazing leverage, perhaps a side effect of his time as a great high school wrestler who won the state title. The only minor hiccup, or thing that the dozens of scouts can nitpick, is his supposed lack of size, i.e. height, but Martin comes in as a versatile lineman who can play in either a 4-3 as a DT or in the 3-4 as a defensive end, and teams won't lose anything athletically or strength-wise in either scenario.

He's not a massive space-eater like Vince Wilfork, but few are, and he should have no problems holding up at the point of attack. He's also tough and durable, willing to play hurt if necessary, a great leader, and someone who is capable of exploding for big plays when he is allowed to go one-on-one. He especially was double-teamed a lot in 2010 in a non-traditional defense before Greg Mattison allowed him to move back to the 4-3, where he excelled.

Martin has been shooting up draft boards for many reasons, but the combine performance seals the deal. Teams would be foolish to let him slip past the second round in this era where defensive line is just about the most important position group on the field.

Nick Meyer is a lifelong Michigan fan from Metro Detroit.

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