With all of the speed merchants the Texans drafted throughout the 2016 NFL Draft, it's easy to forget the two big fellas that'll be coming to Houston this week. Let's focus on second round center Nick Martin from Notre Dame and what makes him worthy of a top 50 pick/potential starter on the Texans offensive line.
After a turnover deep in Navy territory, the Irish called a zone stretch out of the pistol. Navy was in an even front with a defensive tackle in a two technique (inside shoulder of the guard). Typically, the guard will get a piece of the defensive tackle so as to give Martin, the center, a better chance to "scoop" - pin the tackle to the inside. Unfortunately, the guard really didn't help at all, so Martin had to make a really tough block on his own.
He did. His quick feet shot him right off the snap to lead him into the proper position. Once he was there, he flipped his hips and pinned the player back to the inside. That shut off any penetration that might have forced running back C.J. Prosise to have to slow down or get off his zone path. Martin's quickness helped seal the inside and the rest of the left side of the line handled its job. Prosise just had to shake one linebacker to walk into the end zone for another Irish touchdown.
In the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, the Buckeyes were in nickel with an even front. That left Martin uncovered on play action pass. The Buckeyes called a swap, or twist A gap linebacker blitz. The hope was that Martin or the guard wouldn't account for both the blitzing linebacker and the second linebacker coming right behind him. If either came clean, quarterback DeShone Kizer doesn't have any time to make a throw.
But, Martin knew immediately that a linebacker was coming. Just after the snap, Martin eyed the defensive tackle quickly, then shot his eyes back to the linebacker and stoned Ohio State's Josh Perry. The guard and running back took care of the second blitzer. Kizer then stood tall in the pocket and delivered a dime for a first down.
Martin is a tough, quiet leader who displayed all the qualities a coach/organization wants in a center. He's going to have to fight for this starting job, but he has the work ethic, desire and traits show in this piece to earn it as early as 2016.
The Texans took Notre Dame offensive lineman Nick Martin in the 2nd round with the 50th pick overall.