Content
X

Create Account

Or log in with Facebook

X

Log in

Or log in with Facebook

If Packers Want to "Get Bigger" at Center, Marcus Martin Could Be Their Guy

By Category

If Packers Want to "Get Bigger" at Center, Marcus Martin Could Be Their Guy

Back in February, the Green Bay Packers released offensive lineman Greg Van Roten.

In an interview with ESPN.com, Van Roten's agent, Bill Baldini is quoted as saying, “I spoke to them, and they felt like they wanted to get bigger.”

The Packers' running game finally became an effective weapon this past season with the emergence of Eddie Lacy, and if they want that trend to continue, maybe they'll try to get bigger and pursue a player like USC center Marcus Martin in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Martin is the second-ranked center in this year's draft class, according to NFLDraftScout.com, and the 75th rated player overall.

With the starting center position up for grabs this offseason, the Packers could consider selecting one as high as the second or third round. To do so, however, they'd have to break tradition. Directing nine drafts as Green Bay's general manager, Ted Thompson has never selected a true center.

Relatively speaking, Martin is inexperienced as a center with only one year at the position under his belt—but what a year it was. After playing left guard his first two years at USC, Martin started all 13 regular season games for the Trojans in 2013 and ended up being named first-team All-Pac 12.

"I was really focused and concentrated on developing my game, learning how to snap, trying to understand our offensive scheme as best as possible," said Martin at the NFL Combine. "And it was something that played a pivotal role with me being successful this year at center."

The results were so good, Martin decided to forego his senior season and declared for the NFL Draft as an underclassman.

At 6' 3" and 320 lbs., Martin is bigger than the Packers are accustomed to at center. Their past three starters at the position—Scott Wells, Jeff Saturday and Evan Dietrich-Smith—each hovered around 6' 2" and 300 lbs.

Now that Dietrich-Smith left the Packers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be on his fourth different center in four seasons.

Last year's fourth round draft choice, J.C. Tretter, figures to be among the top candidates to land the open gig, but head coach Mike McCarthy wouldn't rule out other candidates at last month's NFL Owners Meeting, including Don Barclay and T.J. Lang.

Despite his limited experience, Martin would prefer not to sit behind another player for a season.

"I wouldn’t say it would be disappointing," said Martin. "It would be a great learning experience and an opportunity for me to soak up the offense and really assimilate into the team and get to know the coaching staff and things like that. I would like to come in and take a starting job."

First things first for Martin, he has to put his recent injury issues behind him. In USC's final regular season game against rival UCLA, Martin both dislocated his kneecap and had a high-ankle sprain that prevented him from playing in the Trojans' bowl game.

At the NFL Combine, Martin was limited to participating strictly in the bench press (23 repetitions), and while he was able to run the 40-yard dash (5.22 seconds per NFL.com) at his university's pro day, he still was not able to take part in broad jump or three-cone drill.

Martin, however, is no stranger to adversity, having been part of a USC team that fired head coach Lane Kiffin at mid-season last year.

"Learning from my coaching situation is, you gotta persevere," said Martin. "No matter who the coach is, you gotta overcome. Things happen. You have to understand as a team and an individual. As a leader, you have to convey that across to the offensive line and the rest of your team. You have to learn how to pick up the slack and keep the ball rolling."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

  • Like Like
  • 1 points

Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

JimTaylor31's picture

I wouldn't complain at all if TT drafted a center to come in and compete with Tretter. The better the competition the better the overall team.

4thand1's picture

Agreed. Take 90 into camp, let the best man win.

Evan's picture

With Tretter, I wouldn't like to see a pure center drafted but rather an interior guy with some versatility.

If/when Tretter wins the job, a guy who can only backup center won't be nearly as valuable as a guy with some versatility (and would have a very hard time making the roster, at that).

This guy would certainly fit the bill in that regard.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Who else do we have at Center? Lang already came out and said he wouldn't like filling that position. Every OL drafted by GB either knows another position across the line or WILL learn another position across the line.

Evan's picture

What Lang said on twitter doesn't carry much weight - but, yeah, I doubt he gets moved.

There is also Garth Gerhart and didn't they try Lane Taylor at center too?

So, in other words, not much.

As for linemen learning other positions, yeah. But I think it's much more realistic for a college OT to transition to OG or a college OG to transition C than it is for a true college C to transition OG/OT.

I don't have anything to back this up with, but my gut says if you can't play T or G in college, you won't be able to in the pros.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I always thought there were no "true" anything in college.

G or C in college/ might play G,C or RT in pros
DE in college/most likely OLB in pros
WR in college/defender in the pros
CB in college/safety in the pros

Stroh's picture

As a general rule, Evan is correct. You start outside and as the level of competition goes up you move further inside. There may be rare occurrences where a college OG plays RT in the NFL. But its rare.

College OT become NFL OG.
College OG become NFL OG/C.

Sam Shields not withstanding, how many college WR become NFL CB/S? Shields college coaches told him his best chance to play NFL ball was a CB but he resisted till his Sr season.

Its about athletic ability. OT need more athletic ability than OG, so in college you might be a good enough athlete to play OT, but at the next level you don't, so they slide you inside. Same for CB turned NFL Safety.

Evan's picture

Yeah, that's pretty much what I was poorly trying to say. It's unlikely that a guy who was a true center in college (only played there) would be able to transition to another position in the NFL. Now, how many "true" centers are there in college, I don't know.

Below Ben says center is the 2nd most important position on a team. I don't know about that - one opinion I read recently during the whole Alex Mack stuff from Ross Tucker, former o-lineman, says center is the easiest position to play and not an important, impact position.

Take it for what you will: http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2014-04-10/alex-mack-jaguars-offer...

I think I tend to agree with that. Aside from 2-3 elite guys, I think most centers are replaceable. And don't have much impact on a team's winning or losing. Just look at some of the top centers in the league and their team's w/l record. Pouncey? Mack? Sullivan?

MarkinMadison's picture

His size and experience level are very comparable to Travis Frederick, who started every game for the Cowboys last year and was named to the all-rookie team. Some are criticizing his bench press, but he put up two more reps than Frederick did, for whatever that is worth. It makes me a little nervous because usually the center calls out the blitz protections, but thems the apples the Packers have dealt to themselves. If there is any doubt about the guys on board being able to play the position I wouldn't mind this as a pick-up in the third.

4thand1's picture

So a center has to be smart. Tretter is supposed to be smart. After all he is an Ivy leaguer.

ben's picture

not a chance we draft Martin. Lang is staying right where he is and Barclay has tremendous value as a backup to every position on the Oline. We do need some competition for Tretter, who is Not a given.

Anybody want to put money on the TT taking either Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the 3rd-4th or Russell Bodine in the 4th-5th?

Evan's picture

I don't understand. Why wouldn't Martin be competition for Tretter?

Stroh's picture

I don't know about Martin in the 3rd, but would be a great pick in the 4th. He has good potential but is pretty raw and needs refinement and development. Has OG/C versatility... Another Thompson OL gem in the 4th round?! Works for me!

MarkinMadison's picture

This is not a deep C class. Martin won't be there in the 4th. Might not be there at the end of the 3rd.

Stroh's picture

So be it... Let someone else draft him that high then. I think he's got some potential, but not 3rd round talent IMO. You have to take players in the appropriate round where they fit, not overdraft due to a weak class at his position or need.

ben's picture

i didn't say martin wouldn't be competition for Tretter, he probably would. "NO CHANCE" may have been a little strong, but I just don't think we're going to draft him. Although like you guys, I do think who ever we draft should be able to play center & guard. I'll take Russell Bodine over Martin and think he could easily play both.

Stroh's picture

Way too high. Neither is that good. LDT is a decent OG prospect, but won't play Center and Bodine is no 4-5th rd pick.

ben's picture

Why can't LDT be a center??? He without a doubt has the physical talent and might be the smartest player in all of football, pro or college.

Are you saying Bodine is a 3rd? , (cause there's about a -100% chance he falls to the 6th)
1. He's one of the most physically impressive Oline prospects in the entire draft.
2. What MarkinMadtown said.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2001352-russell-bodine-scouting-repor...

Stroh's picture

Bodine is a 6th at best. He won't sniff the 4th or 5th.

LDT is much more of an OT/OG much like Lang or Sitton. He doesn't have the OT skills you might want but should transition to OG pretty well. At Center, he would lose the leverage battle against DL that are generally shorter. OT/OG are easily his best positions, not Center. At OT it would depend on his foot quickness (ability to mirror), but he's a mauler who would slide perfectly to OG. Possible 4th, but likely a 5th, maybe even a 6th.

Please don't use BR as a source. Its about as bad a place for info there is. Go look at CBS/ NFL or a couple other sites. BR is at the bottom of the totum pole.

ben's picture

The article has video and mostly factual information. Things like:
•Fast and quick for a 310-pound athlete, with a real explosive twitch to his movements and overall game.
•Had a monstrous combine in numerous explosive categories.
•Put up a ridiculous 42 bench reps, the most of any lineman at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
•Was among the top half of testers for the 40-yard dash in Indy, registering the ninth-best 10-yard split of all offensive linemen.
•Only out-leaped by four offensive linemen in the vertical and registered the sixth-best broad jump.

"Bodine is a 6th at best. He won't sniff the 4th or 5th." is laughable.

"LDT Possible 4th, but likely a 5th, maybe even a 6th." almost as laughable.

Your at the bottom of my scotum pole. I couldn't disagree with you more, more often.

I'll cut this now, and paste it here after the draft.

Stroh's picture

Too bad you cant have a discussion where someone disagrees w/ you. Have to resort to calling people names doesn't lend any credibility to you, nor BR!

Facts according to BR are about as bad as your opinions!

Stroh's picture

CBS...
Russell Bodine OG 13 North Carolina rJr 6-3 310 rd 6-7

NFL Grade 5.3.
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential

Surely you and the hacks at BR know better tho?!

DrealynWilliams's picture

Remember when everyone thought the Center, B. Jones (Oklahoma) was coming to GB?

Stroh's picture

Barrett Jones, Alabama? Yeah everyone thought he should be a 1st rd pick at first too. He fell to the 4th, which is probably about right considering he was considered comparable to Daryn Colledge.

ben's picture

I can remember when a lot of people thought the Packers may draft Barrett Jones. I don't remember many thinking he was a 1st round pick.

Stroh's picture

Shortly after the season ended Jones was almost a consensus 1st by most people. By the combine he was in the 2nd or 3rd. Taken in the 4th. He fell farther, the more the draft process went on...

Jordan's picture

I'm not going to be shocked if Packers take a straight center in the later rounds to serve as backup center (to tretter) and long snapper. Our long snapper (I can't even think of his name) looks slower than my sister out there on punt coverage. He looks like he's in slow motion. He looks like he has the reaction time of someone who just drank a fifth of gin.

ben's picture

It pisses me off that we use 1 of 53 roster spots on a long-snapper. Our guy is suppose to be pretty good. But I'd like to think 1 of the other 8 lineman or almost anybody else could hut the damn ball. It could easily be the difference in keeping a player like Tolzein, Banjo, Nixon, Jolly, Taylor, Barrington, a 5th receiver/kr, or for me Jonathan Franklin.

I'm a Tretter fan, just like everybody else who's never seen him play. He's a fine prospect. But he's never played a down in the NFL, and he's never played the center position. And I'm not saying he's injury-prone, but so far he's 0/16 and coming off of a serious injury.

I wish people wouldn't just give Tretter the job, the Packer's won't. It's only the 2nd most important position on the team,(QB,C,LT with Aaron Rodgers @ QB). With all MM's talk of competition, and Barclay's tremendous value backing up the entire Oline, and Lang staying at RG, TT will draft somebody to legitimately compete to be starting center of the GB Packers.

HankScorpio's picture

If history is any guide, the Packers will draft at least one OL but he'll be a guy that played OT in college.

Evan's picture

That's a bingo.

Tundraboy's picture

Agree on Bleacher Report. Thought I would throw this out here.

Russell Bodine Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for North ...
bleacherreport.com/.../2001352-russell-bodine-scouting-...‎
Bleacher Report
Mar 24, 2014 - Russell Bodine , OC , North Carolina, (HT: 6'3⅛"; WT: 310 lbs) Positives Plays football like a man possessed. Tremendous upper-body strength ...

Log in to comment, upload your game day photos and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.

Or log in with Facebook

Packers Tickets

Must Read

Quote

"The Bears still suck!"
"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."