The Dallas Cowboys continued their recent free agency binge of sorts over the weekend, signing offensive lineman Marcus Martin. The Cowboys have begun plugging their holes one-by-one, and Martin's addition directly fills a need for the 2018 team.
The former third round pick of the 49ers has had a bit of a rocky career thus far. After starting 14 games for the 49ers in 2015, Martin was only able to appear in four games in 2016 due to injuries. He then joined the Cleveland Browns in 2017, but did not see any action.
Marcus Martin's appeal to the Cowboys is clear, however, and it has to do with his position-flex. Though listed as a guard, Martin has shown the ability to play both left guard and center during his NFL career.
His movement skills and versatility make him a strong candidate to fill the swing center/guard role on the 2018 roster, despite some clear deficiencies on tape.
When watching Martin I often found myself impressed with his movement and athleticism, especially when he worked to the second level to meet linebackers. The problem I had was, once he got to the point of contact, he struggled with his technique. I'd like to see Martin play more under control at the second level, breaking down and making his blocks in a more consistent fashion. Still, he clearly has the traits to work in the Cowboys' run blocking scheme.
In pass protection I saw many of the same inconsistencies with Marcus Martin. At times he made blocks such as these (left guard, number 66), though. Here Martin is quick out of his stance and fluid in his footwork. He is violent with his hands when meeting the rusher, and slides down nicely to counter the inside move.
Too often, however, his pass protection efforts look like they did on this play against Sheldon Richardson. Here, Martin's initial step and set are fine, but he gets no punch on Richardson and allows himself to get bullied around.
Richardson hits him with the long arm, completely turns his shoulders, and sheds him for an easy quarterback pressure. Martin needs to be stronger with his hands on reps like these, and has to find the balance between patience and violence.
Later in the game, Martin made the adjustment to jump-set Richardson and stopped him at the line of scrimmage. It was good to see Martin recognize how he was getting beat, adjust accordingly, and then execute the block.
Overall, I don't have any real issues with the signing of Marcus Martin. He has shown he can play both guard and center, and has the movement skills the Cowboys look for in their offensive linemen. Bringing in Martin to compete for the swing interior lineman role with Joe Looney is a smart move.
If they believe Martin is the answer to their starting left guard woes, however, then I would have an issue with the move. Hopefully the Cowboys still look to one of the guards in this very strong draft class to fill that starting role going forward.