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markelle martin cowboys | The DC Times

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Safety Plan: Interview with Oklahoma State Safety Markelle Martin

Jonathan Bales

My last scouting report at the NY Times was on Oklahoma safety Markelle Martin.  Shortly following the post, Markelle’s team contacted me to do an interview, and I of course accepted.  Many of the old-time DCT’ers know I used to do more pre-draft interviews, and I can tell you Markelle has been (by far) the most well-spoken of the bunch.

From speaking with Markelle, I can tell he’s a Jason Garrett type of guy.  He’s incredibly hard-working, intelligent, and loves to play football.  Don’t be surprised if Markelle is on the Cowboys’ radar later this month.

How is your draft prep going? What kinds of things are you doing?

It is going well.  Since I injured my knee just after beginning my draft prep, I have been doing a lot of weight lifting.  My weight lifting is basically the same as it was in-season, but with more emphasis on flexibility.

On the field, I’m back into position drills and really working on my technique.  I’m working to make sure I have no false steps and that my mechanics are great.  I’m doing a lot of ball drills and working a ton on eye control.  I typically spend about 90 minutes on the field each day, then another 30 minutes or so watching film.

What sort of film are you watching?

I’m reviewing my Oklahoma State film to see what I did well and what I can improve upon.  I want to make sure I don’t make the same mistake twice.

Have you gotten a lot stronger with so much time in the weight room?

My strength is about the same as prior, but my endurance is much better.  I think that is important so I don’t tire out during games, and my muscular endurance is the best it has ever been.

How disappointing was it to not participate in the Combine?

I was pretty disappointed.  I knew for a while I wouldn’t be able to participate, but once the time came I got a little antsy and wanted to get out there.  I really wanted to compete against the best players in the country.  I participated in interviews and helped our free safety with his on-field drills and technique.

What were your Combine interviews like? Did they ask you anything really weird?

No, nothing too strange.  Almost all of it was scheme-related.  They asked me about different plays and had me run through some of the things we did at Oklahoma State.  A few teams asked me if I prefer playing free or strong.

What did you tell them?

I like both.  I think I am versatile and can play any position.  I played the nickel spot in college too.

What are your biggest strengths as a player?

I love the game.  I have a desire to get better and I think it shows in how I prepare for games.  I’m always staying a half hour or hour after practice to study extra film.  I really want to improve and I work hard to do it.

Do you pattern your game after any current or former NFL players?

Yeah, I really like the old Miami safeties.  I try to make my game like a combination of Sean Taylor and Ed Reed.  I want to be able to hit like Sean, but fly around in the secondary like Ed.  I think it is important to be versatile enough to do both of those as a safety.

Do you check scouting reports and mock drafts a lot?

I try my best to block it out, but it is difficult.  Of course I look at things people are saying about me.  I like to read the positive things and feel good about that.  I use the critical stuff as motivation.

What would you be doing if you weren’t playing football?

I think I’d be a motivational speaker of some kind.  I love to speak to kids, and I want to show them they can do anything.  I think I would definitely be involved with football in some way.  I’d probably be a coach and a speaker.

Any idea where you’ll watch the draft?

I’m not sure, but probably just at home with my family.

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Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Markelle Martin, FS, Oklahoma State

Jonathan Bales

There are rumors circulating that the Cowboys are interested in Alabama safety Mark Barron in the first round.  In my scouting report on Mark Barron, I wrote the following:

Barron reminds me of a young Brian Dawkins in that he isn’t afraid to lay a lick on ball-carriers but also isn’t a glorified linebacker.  Barron is far superior to Dawkins in coverage, though.  His most valuable trait is his versatility, as he played free safety, strong safety, slot cornerback and even linebacker at Alabama.  With so many responsibilities, it is impressive that Barron seems to play with proper leverage and remember his responsibilities.  On a defense that was so loaded with talent that everyone probably appears better than they were, Barron still stands out to me.

I like Barron, but does he warrant a top 15 pick?  I’m not sure, but it doesn’t appear a trade down is likely.  With Barron the top safety on the board (by far), someone will take him earlier than he might otherwise go.  That team might be the Cowboys.

If Dallas passes on Barron, though, there are options later in the draft.  One popular name is Markelle Martin from Oklahoma State.  My scouting report on Martin is up now at the Times.  Click the link to check it out.  Here’s a preview:

I watched four full games of Markelle Martin’s, and I was surprised.  The Oklahoma State prospect is supposed to be the top true free safety in the draft, but he looks to have a poor understanding of zone concepts.  That stuck out again and again as I watched Martin.  Let me show you what I mean.

At the 49-second mark in the video below, Martin has deep half responsibility in Cover 2.  This means he is to cover the deep area from the middle of the field to the sideline. As the play develops, you can see no one threatens Martin’s zone down the sideline.  The slot receiver breaks off his route and the outside ‘Z’ receiver runs toward the middle of the field.  When Martin saw no one threatening the deep sideline, he should have immediately floated back toward the center of the field.  He didn’t, and the result was a big completion.

You can see poor awareness again at the 2:55 clip.  In that play, Martin is lined up at Oklahoma State’s 5-yard line to start the play.  He immediately backpedals, but there’s no reason for it.  With very little field behind him for receivers to get open, he should sit on routes, even if he has a “deep” responsibility.  A single receiver threatens Martin’s zone, but he continues to backpedal.

I’m not a fan of Martin’s in the least.  To me, he’s too big of a project to be considered even in the middle rounds.  He’s a “true” free safety and that could tempt the ‘Boys, but he shouldn’t be relied on to fix the back part of anyone’s secondary.

Previous Scouting Reports

Michael Brockers, DT/DE, L.S.U.

Devon Still, DT/DE, Penn State

Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida/North Alabama

Mark Barron, SS, Alabama

Morris Claiborne, CB, L.S.U.

Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois

Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia

Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia

Nick Perry, DE/OLB, U.S.C.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

Fletcher Cox, DT/DE, Mississippi State

Jerel Worthy, DT/DE, Michigan State

Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall