Cowboys’ pick sees no problem with guard transition

Posted Thursday, May. 08, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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NFL Draft

Today-Saturday, Radio City Music Hall, New York

Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Today. Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Sat. TV: NFL Net., ESPN/ESPN2

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If the Cowboys move Zack Martin to guard to start his career, at least his experience at the Senior Bowl tells him he can do it.

“Absolutely. It gave me some live reps there,” the Cowboys’ first-round pick said Thursday night in a conference call with reporters. “It gave me some very good competition. It definitely helped me out.”

Martin was the third-rated offensive tackle in the draft, but projected as the top guard if he switched positions. He played all but two games at left tackle in college at Notre Dame, where he made a school-record 52 consecutive starts.

He said the Cowboys, who will probably be looking to move on from right tackle Doug Free after 2014, talked to him about his position flexibility.

“We talked. We went through some schemes. We just talked about different things,” Martin said. “One of my biggest strengths, I think, is my versatility. So like I told them, I’m willing to play anything, and anything they need me to do to help the team is what I’m willing to do.”

Martin, 6-4, 308, played two games at right tackle in college and none at guard. But he said he understands guard play.

“It’s just kind of a rep thing,” he said. “If you switch sides, it’s just getting used to the different foot and back. And if you move inside, it’s just everything is a little closer. I’ve gone over those techniques throughout my career, even though I didn’t play there.”

Defensive options gone

The Cowboys lost their top two defensive prospects in the first 90 minutes of the draft, and they lost a third just before they picked.

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr went to the Minnesota Vikings with the ninth pick, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh went to the St. Louis Rams at No. 13, just three picks before the Cowboys were scheduled to pick.

Ryan Shazier, a linebacker from Ohio State, went to the Pittsburgh Steelers one pick before the Cowboys.

Barr and Donald were the top targets the Cowboys reasonably hoped to get to improve the weakest part of the league’s worst defense a year ago, with Shazier a fallback option. The Cowboys signed free agent Henry Melton and re-signed Anthony Spencer, but they were looking to infuse youth into the defensive line.

Offensive options

Early in the week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said if a defensive lineman wasn’t available when the team picked, it could mean that some offensive options had slid to the Cowboys.

But the top receivers were gone, too. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the seventh pick, and LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. went to the division rival New York Giants at No. 12.

First-round OL

Zack Martin became the sixth offensive lineman drafted in the first round by the Cowboys, including the third in the past four drafts.

He joins a list that includes center Travis Frederick in 2013, tackle Tyron Smith in 2011, guard Howard Richards in 1981, center Robert Shaw in 1979 and guard John Niland in 1966.

Niland was a six-time Pro Bowl player for the Cowboys. Smith made the Pro Bowl last year.

Second-round review

The Cowboys have recently had a good second day in the NFL Draft.

Since the draft moved to prime time in 2010 and changed its format over three days, Dallas has thrived on the second day when the second and third rounds are held. Rounds four through seven are on Saturday.

Since 2010, the Cowboys have drafted the following in the second round: tight end Gavin Escobar, wide receiver Terrance Williams and safety J.J. Wilcox in 2013; Tyrone Crawford in 2012; linebacker Bruce Carter and running back DeMarco Murray in 2011; and linebacker Sean Lee in 2010.

Nguyen chosen

Thirty-two former NFL players will announce second-round picks on Friday. Representing the Dallas Cowboys will be Dat Nguyen.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @calexmendez

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