- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Senior Bowl was played on Saturday, and after a week of evaluating some of the nation's top NFL draft prospects in Mobile, Ala., nearly all scouts and analysts are unanimous in their impressions of Zack Martin.
Scouts Inc. called the two-time Notre Dame captain the "best run-blocker" all week. The Senior Bowl itself named Martin the most outstanding offensive lineman of the week. The Atlanta Falcons and several other teams were effusive in their praise of Martin as well.
"They've just said that I've done a nice job and came out and competed, which I wanted to do," Martin said, per ESPN Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure. "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."
So much draft talk throughout the 2013 Irish season seemed to focus on Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt. And, to be fair, much of that likely stemmed from the fact that each had a year of eligibility remaining for 2014, whereas Martin was playing in his fifth and final season.
Now it would not be too surprising if Martin's name is called first in May among the draft-eligible former Notre Dame players. Those around the program liked to often say there was no real measure to gauge just how consistently good he was with the Irish -- Martin's New Era Pinstripe Bowl MVP notwithstanding -- but we may be starting to see it through the impressions he has been leaving in the pre-draft process.
Look no further than this account from NJ.com's Jordan Raanan:
Martin dominated Stanford defensive end Trent Murphy the first three days of practice. He got the better of Missouri’s Michael Sam when they were matched opposite each other on Wednesday. It was clear that Martin was one of the more refined and dominant players at the Senior Bowl this week.
“Zack Martin is definitely the best college offensive lineman I’ve gone against,” said Murphy, who led the nation in sacks this season. “He’s a phenomenal player and a phenomenal athlete. He can play both tackle and guard. We matched up Monday and he might have got the best of me that day.”
Martin received rave reviews from the scouts and draft experts I spoke with in Mobile. He likely solidified a spot in the first round with his play.