04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Buccaneers' picks: Round 1/31 - Doug Martin, RB, 5-9, 223, Boise State...Martin is an every-down back that reminds Schiano of Ravens and former Rutgers running back Ray Rice. He should win the starting job over LeGarrette Blount. - The Sports Xchange
During the last three months, NFL scouts admit they studied hard to better appreciate Boise State running back Doug Martin. For his part, Martin admits he has come a long ways in appreciating football in general and the NFL in particular.
It was widely believed that Martin's production at Boise State was due more to sheer will and hard work than it was any innate athletic ability that might help his move up pro football. But after a dazzling performance at the Scouting Combine, it was apparent Martin had the athletic ability to validate his production as a runner, receiver and returner at Boise State.
He impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl in January, and then grabbed their attention at the Indianapolis combine in February (36-inch vertical jump and 10-foot broad jump, 28 reps with 225 pounds on bench press, 4.55 seconds in 40 yards). All this put a different perspective on the 4,885 yards of total offense and 48 touchdowns he accumulated at Boise state -- including 3,431 rushing, 715 receiving and 739 on kickoff returns.
That is impressive for anybody, but especially so for a guy who first honed those skills playing ferocious games of tag with his siblings. He had a radical game that included spins, rolling on the ground, leaping over people and off jungle gyms, and even running through a glass door -- once.
"I was a fan of Jackie Chan, so I was doing all kinds of stuff," Martin explained in an interview last year. "I was crafty."
But he knew nothing about football when he enrolled at St. Mary's High in Stockton, Calif., nine years ago. Tag wasn't a team sport, so he was told to try football. He obliged, but players laughed when he showed up with linemen's shoes and his shoulder pads on wrong.
And when teammates sensed that he wasn't really savvy about football, especially the NFL, they were all over him. He recalled they would tease him by asking questions such as, "Where are the Dolphins?" He also recalls that he answered "Uh, Chicago?"
His teammates eventually stopped laughing when, after he learned a little more about the game, they found out what his siblings knew already. He was hard to tag, let alone tackle. As a junior he rushed for 1,950 yards and 18 touchdowns and was team MVP.
Since then, Martin has learned a lot more about football and, not coincidentally, the NFL has learned much more about him.
So both he and one NFL team will have an enlightened, mutual appreciation later this month when Martin's name is called during the draft, probably in the first or second round.
Inside: Bowling-ball runner between the tackles. Flashes a burst into and out of the hole. Lowers his pads and delivers a blow into the chest of defenders. Falls forward on nearly every run due to lean. Finds creases with jump-steps and bounces into open on some plays, but buries his head too soon at times. Short build makes it difficult for defenders to find among lineman. Does not always read blocks correctly from pulling guards. Holds ball high and tight when inside. May not be big enough to move piles at the next level, but gets low and gives great effort to pick up short-yardage plays.
Outside: Good acceleration and straight-line speed to break off long runs. Cuts hard to his left and right equally well to avoid hard-charging safeties. Flashes setting up straight-on defender with inside-out cut which freezes them. Strong stiff-arm denies oncoming tacklers. Shows patience on stretch runs, plants foot and accelerates to avoid penetrating defenders or once finding a hole. Does not always move ball to outside hand. Ball gets away from his body when running at full speed; fumbled three times in 2010, twice in 2009 in limited carries. May not break away from NFL defenders as regularly as he did against non-BCS conference competition.
Breaking tackles: Low center of gravity, strong lean, and powerful legs let him bull through arm and shoulder tackles. Good balance to spin off a hit, maintain balance and continue downfield. Lowers pads on contact and churns through cut tackles in space. Cuts quickly and even jump-cuts through traffic and past second-level tacklers. Plays through the whistle.
Blocking: Does not offer much in terms of pass protection. Often subbed out in obvious passing situations, best help for the quarterback is as an outlet receiver. Does not anchor against oncoming blitzers. Poor cut tackler, defenders easily elude him. Lacks height but possesses strength, build and attitude to improve with more coaching.
Receiving: Solid receiver in the flat, capable of running through tackles on the edge to move the chains. Flexible enough to catch passes thrown behind him. Effective on center screens, makes first man miss to get into space. Rarely goes out of bounds (unless time requires), cuts inside tacklers to get extra yardage.
Intangibles: Offensive weapon with defensive mindset. NFL body comes from excellent weight room work ethic. Teammate Matt Slater referred to Martin as a "muscle hamster" due to his compact build.