Martin worth eyeing at Senior Bowl

January, 25, 2014
Jan 25
8:00
AM ET
Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin came into the Senior Bowl confident based on the success he had in college, concluding with his MVP performance in a Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers.

Martin's confidence is even higher now based on the feedback he received all week not only from the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff working with the North squad, but also from a wide variety of teams he interviewed with throughout the week. He was named the most outstanding offensive lineman by a handful of respected scouts for his work in practice.

"They've just said that I've done a nice job and came out and competed, which I wanted to do," Martin said of what teams told him. "I played different spots (left tackle and left guard), and a lot of teams asked about that. So I just showed that I can have versatility on the line."

Martin also has been a sponge in terms of soaking in advice from new Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice, who was impressed with Martin from the start of practice.

The respect is mutual.

"He's great," Martin said of Tice. "He's been around a long time. He's a real high-profile coach who knows a lot. I just have to continue little things with technique, especially on the inside where I haven't really played. So learning little bits from him has been great."

With the Falcons searching for help along the offensive and defensive lines, Martin will be one of the players worth watching when the actual Senior Bowl game takes place Saturday in Mobile, Ala. (4 p.m., NFL Network).

Here are four more linemen the Falcons should watch closely Saturday while coaching the North team:

Aaron Donald (6-0, 288), DT, Pittsburgh: Donald was voted the most outstanding player in practice as he displayed his tremendous explosion and motor throughout the week. He told ESPN.com he views himself as a good fit in the Falcons' defensive system. His stock continues to rise and it looks like he won't slip out of the first round.

Dee Ford (6-2, 243), DE, Auburn: Ford is a little undersized but has great explosion off the edge. Most believe he is a better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Any team simply wants a player who can get to the quarterback.

Ra'Shede Hageman (6-6, 318), DT, Minnesota: New Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox rode Hageman hard all week, and for good reason. Cox obviously sees the great potential in him. We'll see if it translates to a standout performance for Hageman on Saturday.

Brandon Thomas (6-3, 316), OT, Clemson: Thomas probably was the second-best lineman on the North squad behind Martin to start the week. Although he played left tackle in college, some project him as becoming a better guard in the pros.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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