Zack Martin selected in first round of NFL Draft
Brian Hartnett | Thursday, May 8, 2014
For the fourth time in three years, a Notre Dame player was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, as the Dallas Cowboys took former Irish offensive tackle Zack Martin with the 16th pick Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
“It means everything [to be a Cowboy],” Martin said in a phone interview with DallasCowboys.com. “I couldn’t be happier to come down to Dallas and be a part of the great organization, this great storied organization. I am very excited to come down there and start competing and to be a part of the team.”
Martin is the first Notre Dame offensive lineman to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2003, when the Cleveland Browns selected Jeff Faine with the 21st pick. Martin is Notre Dame’s highest-drafted offensive lineman since Andy Heck went to the Seattle Seahawks with the 15th pick in the 1989 NFL Draft.
Martin started 52 consecutive games in his Notre Dame career, 50 of them at left tackle. He was one of only 18 two-time captains in Notre Dame history. The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Indianapolis native, who was named the Top Offensive Lineman at the 2014 Senior Bowl, served as an anchor of an Irish offensive line that allowed eight sacks last season, which placed the unit second in the FBS for fewest sacks allowed.
Despite Martin’s experience at tackle, he is projected to move inside to a guard position in the NFL.
“One of my biggest strengths, I think, is my versatility,” Martin said. “Like I told [the Cowboys], I am willing to play anything, and anything they need me to do to help the team is what I’m willing to do.”
Martin is the fourth Notre Dame player to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft in the Brian Kelly era. Former Irish receiver Michael Floyd was selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 13th overall pick, and former Irish safety Harrison Smith was chosen by the Minnesota Vikings with the 29th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. Former Irish tight end Tyler Eifert was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 21st overall pick in 2013.
Notre Dame is expected to have four players selected in the first two or three rounds. Former Irish defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III have been projected as late first round or second round picks, while former Irish tight end Troy Niklas is likely to be a second or third round selection.
The draft continues tonight with the second and third rounds and finishes Saturday with the final four rounds.