Draft day puts Martin in the spotlight

Wes Martin simply chuckled.

Last week, on Mel Kiper’s final position rankings for the 2019 NFL Draft, the ESPN football guru listed the top 41 offensive guards available in this year’s draft. Martin wasn’t one of them.

Not that he was surprised. Or hurt. For as long as he can remember, Martin has flown under the radar. As an offensive lineman, that’s the nature of the job — especially in Martin’s case.

Indiana was the only Power 5 program to offer him a scholarship out of high school in West Milton, Ohio. And with little fanfare, Martin tried to use his time in Bloomington to his advantage.

“It turned out to be a pretty good five years,” Martin said.

Indeed, Martin’s run at Indiana was good enough to get him drafted.

The Washington Redskins liked enough of what they knew about Martin to make him their fourth-round selection on Saturday. And with that, Martin became the 10th guard to come off the board.

“I had a pretty good feel,” Martin said. “All of the mock draft gurus, they had me somewhere crazy. But I had a pretty good idea of where I might be able to land. So I was beyond excited, but I wasn’t too shocked with where I landed.”

A standout Pro Day at IU on April 2 seemed to boost his stock, and in the Memorial Stadium weight room, Martin posted numbers that compared favorably to some of college football’s top prospects.

His 38 bench press reps would’ve ranked second-best among all players at the NFL Scouting Combine, while his broad jump of 113 inches would’ve ranked seventh among all offensive linemen.

But for Martin, those marks were only a small part of the equation.

“Everyone that follows the process knows it comes down to the tape and the film you put out through your career,” Martin said. “But Pro Day was definitely a good chance for me to show my athleticism and show my explosiveness and all that good stuff just to verify to teams what they thought I was capable of on tape. It was good. I had already had a top-30 visit scheduled with them prior to Pro Day. A week or so after Pro Day, I got to go out to DC and visit with all of them and meet everyone, so that was a really good opportunity to show face and to get to know everyone in the organization.”

So by Saturday, there was already some familiarity between Martin and the Redskins, who are in desperate need of a left guard. Washington signed free agent Ereck Flowers in March, but Flowers has made all 55 of his career starts to this point at tackle.

That means Martin could earn a starting opportunity sooner than later. His first chance to make an impression will come during the Redskins’ rookie minicamp, which begins May 10.

For now, Martin is enjoying the moment, while still processing the events of Saturday afternoon.

“A couple minutes before my name came across the television screen, I got a call from the (Redskins coach Jay Gruden),” Martin said. “Then they passed the phone around their war room there. I got to hear from everyone. Then, as I was wrapping up the phone call, they told me to go run and look at the television. That’s when I saw my name pop up.”

The Martin family reacted in a frenzy, whipping out phones to record the former Hoosier digesting the moment. Some of them yelled and hollered. A few of them cried.

For a player who has spent so much of his football life under the radar, draft day was a brief step into the spotlight.

“It’s a feeling I can’t really describe,” Martin said. “Obviously, you only get to go through this process once and it’s a process like nothing else. I’m still processing it, really. It’s pretty crazy. It’s a real dream come true.”

8 comments

  1. It was very good seeing Martin’s name on the board for the NFL Draft. With his numbers I had to think some team would draft him. I hope he does well and and lives up to his dream. He worked hard at IU and went up against some of the best DL men in the country so he has earned the chance he is getting now.

  2. Great win for the Redskins, big graduation loss for the Hoosiers.
    All great teams have great offensive linemen, even if nobody in the stands knows their name….

  3. I love his attitude, determination and mental toughness. I felt bad for him on draft day because his selection was completely skipped over by ESPN (I watched the fourth round twice just to be sure). Maybe Mel Kiper was chagrined! They went to commercial when his name was called and they never went back and mentioned Martin or showed his highlights at all. You got to see his name across the bottom of the screen after the fact, but no one on ESPN ever mentioned his name, or IU, at least not that I witnessed. But I get the feeling we’ll hear his name called in the future.

  4. Isn’t that old news? I thought he was already gone.

    Probably going to play for his father at Ap State. Regardless, the young man needs to find a place to finish out his career. He’ll be 24 when he finally finishes his eligibility.

  5. At the end of the season it was announced he needed surgery and frequent injuries were forcing him to leave IU football.

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