The 49ers select offensive lineman Marcus Martin out of USC at pick No. 70.
Martin signed with the Trojans as a highly decorated prep athlete and wasted little time in proving worthy of the recognition, earning 10 starts as a true freshman at left guard. He started another 10 games there as a sophomore in 2012 before making the transition to center last year, taking to the position so well that he was recognized by Pac-12 coaches with First Team all-conference honors.
Martin has the short, squatty frame that offensive line coaches love along the interior. His lack of height and relatively short arms means that his best fit remains at center in the NFL, where his quickness and ability to anchor should help him emerge as a quality starter early in his career.
Only a third-year collegiate player but already boasts the frame of an NFL interior lineman, possessing the naturally thick build conducive to playing in the trenches. Good quickness off the snap, showing the ability to get to the second level as well as seal defenders to create running lanes.
Possesses good core flexibility and natural knee bend to help him anchor against bull rushes. Slides well laterally to mirror pass rushers and keeps his head on a swivel to help teammates.
Plays with some nastiness. Plays to the whistle and isn’t opposed to getting an extra shot in as the whistle blows. A good athlete whose flaws are coachable, suggesting that his best football is still ahead of him.
Only has one year of starting experience at center and is likely to remain at this position in the NFL due to his less than ideal height. Plays very low, which gives him a natural leverage advantage but also makes him prone to effective swim moves from taller defenders. Relies on his punch too much, over-extending and getting himself off-balance.
Spends too much time on the ground because he attempts to knock defenders over rather than simply mirroring them or working to sustain his blocks. Can be a step late in reacting to surprise blitzes. Good quickness to the second level but doesn’t redirect well.
Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns — Mack was among the more polished and talented centers in recent history when he left Cal and was selected by the Browns with the 21st overall pick of the 2009 draft. Martin isn’t yet at this stage but his upside is clear, as is his grit and physicality. With dedication to his craft, Martin could emerge as a quality starter in the NFL