Cowboys pick Zack Martin in 1st

May, 8, 2014
May 8
10:03
PM ET
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IRVING, Texas -- The pick: Zack Martin, offensive line, Notre Dame.

My take: Jerry Jones passed up style for substance by taking Martin over quarterback Johnny Manziel, which might say how the Cowboys are being run these days.

Martin is the third offensive lineman the Cowboys have drafted in the first round in three of the past four years after Jones did not pick an offensive lineman with their top pick from 1989-2010. Martin joins Tyron Smith (2011) and Travis Frederick (2013) as the first-round picks taken the past four seasons.

Martin can come in and play guard, either right or left, as a rookie in 2014 and move to tackle in 2015 depending on Doug Free's status. Free is set to become a free agent after the season. It is also possible Free could move to guard.

The move bolsters the Cowboys' line for quarterback Tony Romo, who is coming off two back surgeries in less than a year, and it also helps for whenever the Cowboys move on to Romo's successor in the future.

Martin was a four-year starter at Notre Dame at left and right tackle.

Saying no to Johnny: In what had to be a difficult decision for Jones, as the Cowboys said no to Manziel. Will it come back to haunt them the way passing on Randy Moss did in 1998?

Moss tormented the Cowboys in his years with the Minnesota Vikings. Manziel could have that opportunity now.

As much as Manziel would have been a marketing dream for Jones, it would have forced him to choose between Manziel and Romo at quarterback. The Cowboys gave Romo a six-year, $108 million extension last year with $55 million guaranteed. From a salary-cap standpoint, the Cowboys would be hard-pressed to get out of Romo's contract comfortably until 2016, though it would not be impossible to do in 2015.

Now, however, it's a decision Jones does not have to make.

What's next: The Cowboys hold the 47th and 78th picks in the second and third rounds on Friday. After going with Martin in the first round, look for them to target defense. The Cowboys had the worst-ranked defense in 2013.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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