Commanders cornerback Jartavius Martin is an elite tackler

If you’ve watched the Washington Commanders over the years, one of the more noticeable aspects of their defense was poor tackling. Things changed when Ron Rivera took over in 2020. The former NFL linebacker, along with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, helped improve Washington’s tackling, in part by selecting defensive backs who were smart, physical and willing to tackle.

The willing part is essential. Not every defensive back has that mindset. Washington’s current secondary, which features talented players such as Kendall Fuller, Kamren Curl, Darrick Forrest, Benjamin St-Juste and others, has that mindset.

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So when the Commanders entered the 2023 NFL draft in search of help in the secondary, they were looking for athletic and physical defenders with a high football IQ.

That’s why Washington selected Emmanuel Forbes and Jartavius Martin in the first two rounds of last week’s draft.

While Forbes, the No. 16 overall selection, is known for his elite ball skills and playmaking ability, Martin — the No. 47 overall selection — is a jack-of-all-trades. Martin did a little bit of everything at Illinois, playing outside cornerback, the slot, deep safety and down in the box. In Rivera’s world of position flex, Martin is the ultimate defensive weapon.

One area where Martin excels is his tackling. According to Pro Football Focus, Martin had a 91.0 run defense grade and a 90.1 tackling grade, which was first among all NCAA defensive backs in 2022.


Worried about Martin’s coverage skills?

The Commanders expect Martin to start in the slot as a rookie in 2023, with Forbes on the outside. The duo of Forbes and Martin give Washington’s secondary some incredible depth next season.

There were some who criticized Washington for taking Martin too high, while others were surprised he was even on the board at No. 47. The Commanders believe they found a gem in Martin.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire