Call me crazy, but I think the Titans are going to be just fine at getting some serious push up the middle in 2012. We are all familiar with Jurrell Casey, last year's third round pick, and what he brings to the table. Karl Klug has established himself as a rising force on the line as well. The addition of Mike Martin only helps strengthen what I feel should be a team strength in 2012.
Martin is a tad undersized, but don't let that discourage you, blocking him is like blocking a rhino with a bunch of broken glass glued to it. I don't want to set expectations too high, but just from seeing some of his film and hearing some scouting reports, no one can seem to get leverage on the guy; it's like they don't even want to get in his way. Big or small, that's an asset and we can work with it. After some preliminary reading on Martin, I stumbled across an article on Bleacher Report (put away your torches and pitchforks, these are cold, hard numbers, not opinions) that gave me a better idea of what to expect from our young defensive tackle.
Since 2000, there have been 32 tackles taken in the third round of the draft. Here's what we can learn from them:
- Most played heavily their rookie year. Twenty-four played in at least nine games. Ten of them started at least half of their games their rookie year. Twenty started three games or less.
- Only six players on the list picked up more than 1.5 sacks*. Thirteen failed to register any sacks.
- Nine had at least 20 tackles. Seventeen failed to register even 10 tackles
*I threw in the asterisk because a.) I don't find that defensive tackle is often a position where great pass rushers reside. Fat Al was the exception, not the rule and b.) because one of those who managed more than 1.5 sacks was our man Jurrell Casey. Heck of a third round pick he turned out to be. Moving on.
If you consider the tackle a flawed stat then this is of little help to you, but it sort of helps to give us a baseline number to work with. However, I find myself unconcerned with a lack of tackles at a position like DT. Most of a defensive lineman's value comes from simply watching him play. If he holds his ground against double teams and wins consistently in one-on-one situations, then he's having a great game. It's all about plugging holes and standing ground. Too often, they won't end up with a tackle or a sack, but if it weren't for these guys up front, you wouldn't see the tackling machines, the linebackers, have so many open opportunities to do what they do best and tackle the ballcarrier. Martin has an outstanding skill set to accomplish just that. He's all energy and motor up the middle and with that tenacious attitude and uncanny ability to create leverage, I think we might have found a real weapon on run support. His presence combined with Casey's should allow our trio of young linebackers to run free and flow to the ballcarrier with relative ease.
From a production (i.e. purely numbers) standpoint I don't see a whole lot that there is to get excited about, but that's the nature of the position. Mike Martin offers something intangible to the team. As long as he keeps on eating up blockers and keeping them off of the linebackers, he'll have been well worth the third round pick that was spent on him. I was extremely excited to see what Casey could do when he was drafted last year. Some of that same excitement exists here with Martin, but I'm going in cautiously optimistic. I love what I'm hearing about his work ethic and energy level, something we're seeing more and more of these days, but I really love it when people describe him as "a bowling ball of butcher knives to block."