USC’s Marcus Martin continues what has been an impressive tradition of Trojan offensive linemen. Like with the recent players from Southern Cal, Martin has impressive strength but shows great athleticism and range for the position. He opted to declare into a tough class and while his physical tools are impressive and allowed him to enjoy a ton of success, he left early as an unfinished product and still has strides to make.
Martin has the ideal build for the center position with great bulk as well as athleticism. He has the ability to be fantastic and dominate as a run blocker as well as in pass protection, showing flashes throughout this past year. Martin still has to become a more finished player in terms of his angles, balance moving laterally as well as adjusting to moving targets, and getting in some awkward position as a pass blocker, but the upside is remarkably high. It is difficult to imagine Martin would get out of the second round of the draft and could go closer to the top of the second round if teams believe they can get him to develop into a premier center.
Vitals & Build
Martin measured in at 6’3 3/8” 320lbs at the scouting combine with 34” arms. He is pretty much the prototype physically for the center position with long arms and impressive strength in his legs. Martin shows impressive movement skills as well. His potential is still high, because as impressive as he is, he does a lot of things that do not allow him to maximize his functional power.
Martin is a terrific athlete and he shows impressive acceleration and overall speed. The biggest issue that Martin runs into is having a high center of gravity and having trouble readjusting with quick movements. The result is that he will have trouble planting and changing direction as well as issues with overrunning targets when he goes to the second level.
Martin can pull well and get to the second level without issue. If he can play with a lower pad level and just become a little bit closer to the ground in general, he can really be impressive in how much ground he can cover and be effective when it comes to hitting his target.
This is where Martin is at his best in this point in his career. He can demonstrate impressive power off of the line and going from the first level and making another block at the second level, showing the ability to dominate opponents with pancake blocks. There are examples where Martin ends up getting too high and shows off impressive power by still being able to drive the opponent back. If he can get a better pad level, he should only be more powerful with better consistency and not have to work quite as hard.
One of the areas where Martin stands out is in how well he drives his feet on contact. For the most part, he keeps a good base and is able to power the opponent down the field, but when he gets too high, he can get narrow and the opponent can work out of the block. Usually, it is too late for them to make an impact, but it is nevertheless an issue to address.
Martin’s range is impressive both laterally and with his ability to pull and get up the field. If opponents do not see him coming or he is not forced to change his path, he can make highlight blocks. His tendency to end up high, especially on the move makes it difficult for him to adjust his angle on the fly and he can end up missing his target or not hitting them square, allowing them to get behind him.
Another area that can occasionally prove problematic for Martin is how he takes on blocks in terms of angles. There are some examples where he ends up opening a lane for them to slip by him.
Martin is really impressive in short yardage situations and is able to consistently get push and create holes up the middle. His ability to make combo blocks and bounce off to get to the second level and make another hit allows him to be an impressive combination of speed and power.
The tools and potential are there for Martin to be a dominant force in the running game, but he does need to work on some of the finer points to maximize his potential. His angles need to improve a little bit, but he could really unlock his potential if he can consistently work lower and dig out even the biggest and strongest of opponents.
Martin shows some ability in pass protection, but it is a work in progress. His ability to slide and cover ground is impressive, though he can have trouble when it comes to getting too high and having trouble making changes in direction.
For the most part, when he is able to get his hands on opponent, he can shut them down, but a few issues show up that need to be addressed. In certain pass sets, it seems as though Martin is able to slide to one side with his body opening up to the other side. When he does this, he does not keep his head on a swivel and opponents are basically free to roll off or simply work past his outstretched arm.
When Martin is on an island in the middle, he does a much better job looking around for opponents to block. He can get impatient though and look to make a knockout block a little earlier than he should, but for the most part does a solid job in space.
Martin can turn his body too much in relation to the pocket, opening up lanes to get through and rush the passer. He gives too many pass rushers an option to rush behind him or just put him at a disadvantage with his power. Martin needs to do a better job of staying square.
Martin does a great job with power moves as he is able to absorb contact well. There are times where he will get too high, but is still able to maintain his block which is a credit to his strength, but could be improved. He is also really effective when it comes to adjusting to speed and opponents trying to stretch him out wide. Outside of occasionally having trouble to adjusting to changes of direction by virtue of being too high, Martin is physically capable of handling just about anything.
The problem for Martin purely comes with technical issues. He has terrific potential but just needs to get better with fundamentals, angles, and having a sense of where he is in terms of space.
Martin shows he has the ability to make an impressive punch and his hand use is pretty solid for the most part. The one issue just comes up when he is pass blocking and not looking at an opponent he is blocking in pass pro with an outstretched arm.
Beyond that, angles and his body positioning in pass pro are consistently the biggest areas that Martin needs to improve. He just needs to eliminate some of the lanes he opens up both in pass and run blocking. Martin will end up turned far too much to one side in pass protection, exposing substantial holes in the protection.
With coaching and facing more physically gifted opponents, Martin should be forced to use better technique consistently and hopefully eliminate these mental errors.
Martin’s feet are great in how fast he can move both forward and he is smooth laterally. The biggest issue he has to address is simply getting better to adjusting to targets on the fly as well as redirecting when opponents make lateral moves. He can end up being too tall and have trouble with his balance. If he can lower his center of gravity more consistently and just get more confident with his feet and ability to plant and redirect, he becomes a fearsome opponent on the move and in pass protection.
Martin is pretty scheme diverse. He is athletic enough to play in a zone scheme and certainly USC has run a lot of it in his time there, but he has the power to play in a gap scheme and grind out yardage. Martin has attractive assets in both scenarios.
It is hard to imagine Martin will not start somewhere on the offensive line when he goes to the NFL. While center is the most likely, a best five scenario could see him play a guard spot as well before he ultimately takes over the pivot spot.
Martin is not as polished a prospect, but his sheer physical ability and potential has him similar to Maurkice Pouncey. The former first round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers came in and immediately started because he was such an impressive physical specimen and was extremely heralded early in his career. His play has not quite lived up to the hype, but he is an extremely talented player. Martin has a lot of the characteristics that could make a team fall in love, but he does need to hammer out some of the details to his technique and understanding of his position.
From a raw physical tools perspective, Marcus Martin might be the most impressive of this year’s crop of centers. He has everything a team could want when it comes to drawing up the position from scratch. Martin displays a ton of ability but the inconsistencies with pad level, technique and spacing creep up and could make people not think he is quite ready yet. Nevertheless, his upside is intriguing and he could start out as a guard if he is not immediately started as a center. Martin warrants a top 75 pick, but it would hardly be a shock if he ends up going top 50 or flirts with the first round because of his upside and scheme versatility.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com