04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Titans' picks: Round 6/190 - Markelle Martin, S, 6-0, 207, Oklahoma State...Martin's value dropped two or three rounds because of a torn meniscus shortly after the Senior Bowl. - The Sports Xchange
Some players flourish under the big lights; Martin's performances in the Cowboys' past two bowl appearances put him in that category. He racked up nine tackles and a pass break-up in the 2010 Cotton Bowl against Ole Miss, then won player of game honors in the 2010 Alamo Bowl after returning an interception 62 yards for a touchdown and breaking up two other passes in the team's 36-10 dismantling of Arizona.
He made some big plays even when coming off the bench (four pass break-ups) and playing special teams (four tackles, blocked punt) as a true freshman. In 2009 he moved into the starting line-up, breaking up a team-high 11 passes during the season. As junior, he intercepted the first three passes of his career while again reaching double-digits in deflections with 10.
Though OSU coaches list Martin as a strong safety on the depth chart, his combination of ball skills, closing speed and willingness to make the big hit make him one of the more versatile safeties in the class. Look for teams to consider him a potential top 50 pick at free or strong with another season where the big plays come in the biggest games.
Man Coverage: Not a major liability in man coverage. Good enough foot speed and length to stay with slot receivers in four-wide sets on short patterns. Reads receivers' routes and anticipates throws at the first down marker. Best lined well off the line of scrimmage, though, due to high, stiff backpedal. Also lacks elite speed to recover if beaten on double move.
Zone Coverage: Covers a lot of ground in a hurry when in space. Reads the quarterback's eyes and see the routes very quickly, then has straight-line speed to arrive with or just after the ball. Aware in the red zone, stays on the back line to take away fade throws. NFL quarterbacks may take advantage of his aggressiveness in man and zone, eyeing up short routes and going over the top behind him.
Ball Skills: Capable of making quarterbacks pay for late throws. Closes to the ball quite well and possesses the hands to snatch throws away from his frame. Straight-line speed allows him to return the pick to the end zone. Not fully consistent on making the interception in front of receivers, but gets to the ball regularly.
Run Support: See the ball well, even when deep, and explodes to the ballcarrier on stretch plays to either sideline. Cognizant of tight end and linemen blocks when coming downhill; won't bully them one-on-one, but frees himself whenever possible by extending his arm.
Tackling: Unleashes big hits on receivers, making them hear footsteps later in the game, using closing speed and tenacity to arrive with maximum impact. Strong upper body allows him to drag down backs to the ground in the space. Ducks his head and swipes too often on open field tackles, however, and will draw the occasional personal foul flag. Not asked to blitz often, but should be solid in that capacity once learning how to beat pass blocks with his hands given his strength and tenacity.
Intangibles: Plays through the whistle, sometimes on the other side. Very good student, won 2010 team award for his academic performance. Missed 2011 spring practices after having surgery on his left shoulder, also missed time in 2009 with a hip injury.