Sports Outside the Beltway

Dallas Cowboys Draft OT James Marten of Boston College

James Marten Boston College Photo Dallas Cowboys .com NFL Draft Logo 2007 The Dallas Cowboys selected Boston College offensive tackle James Marten with the 3rd pick in the 3rd round (#67 overall) that they acquired in their trade with Cleveland.

Rick Gosselin rated him the 85th best player in the draft, so this would seem a pour value at this stage of the draft, especially considering he’s only the second player the Cowboys have taken.

Ed Thompson of profiles Marten.

He’s been called tough, well-schooled in technique and very intelligent at his position. He’s James Marten, one of the top offensive tackles in this year’s draft, and he talked to’s Ed Thompson in this exclusive interview about the skills he’ll be providing to an NFL team very soon.

Ed Thompson: I think one of the things that jumped out at me about you was the fact that you spent a little bit of time during your first year at right tackle, shifted to guard for two years and then finished up at left tackle your senior year. In a four year span, that’s a pretty diverse set of perspectives and skill sets on the line.

James Marten: I think I’m a natural tackle. I think I move better in space. Playing guard is like playing in a phone booth. I like playing out in space and being athletic and moving and countering spin moves and all of that type of thing. I think that type of game is my game. Guard is fine, I just think I naturally fit at tackle better. I feel more comfortable there.

ET: Do you feel you were any better or less effective at right tackle versus left tackle?

OT James Marten of Boston College Photo JM: No, not at all. I feel equally comfortable with it. I’ve played left tackle this year, but I played right tackle in the Senior Bowl. The footwork’s different, but I felt fine. I’ve just been working on that since then, wherever the team wants me to play.

ET: Cleveland Browns assistant offensive line coach, Mike Sullivan, was quoted while talking about you and a teammate, offensive guard Josh Beekman. He said you’re both well-schooled in technique–and you’re tough. Is that a good description of you?

JM: Yeah, I think so. At Boston College we take a lot of pride in our offensive line and that’s one of the things that you can change yourself–your toughness and your technique. You could work on that all day. You’re only born with a certain amount of athleticism inside, so technique is something you have to take pride in, and your toughness.

ET: Let’s talk about that toughness because you had 38 consecutive starts during your college career, right?

JM: Right. I was fortunate not to get injured. I take care of my body pretty religiously. Not sitting out, being tough, showing up to practice everyday, that’s what makes you a good player–consistency and being able to work on something new everyday.

ET: From a technique standpoint, what is it that you think you do particularly well in the running game?

JM: I think I’m able to lock onto guys really well and stick with them until the end of the play.

ET: How about as a pass protector?

JM: I think I’m able to get a good position on guys and I always extend on them real well.

ET: I found it interesting, especially as you were talking about feeling that tackle is a better fit for you, at least the stats I saw, both your junior year when you were at guard and your senior year when you were at left tackle, you only allowed one and a half sacks both seasons. Obviously, from technique standpoint, you can be successful at either position.

JM: I liked playing guard, I just feel like I’m a natural fit at tackle. Guard’s fun because you have a big, fat D-tackle tackle in front of you. You can just load up and knock ‘em back. It’s fun. I like to do that, I like to hit. I had a lot of fun at guard, I just feel that I’m a natural fit at tackle.

Certainly, tackle is the premier offensive line position, especially if he can play the left side in the pros. Flozell Adams has that job locked down but his production has dropped and it’s unlikely the Cowboys will pay what it’ll take to keep him if they have an alternative.

UPDATE: Gosselin is on The Ticket now and he says he likes to “give BC offensive linemen the benefit of the doubt.” He thinks there’s still value to be had in the 4th and 5th round, especially offensive guards and safeties.

ESPN’s “experts” had Marten graded as the 66th best player available, which is almost exactly where Dallas picked him. Their evaluation:

Scouts’ Grade: 79

Strengths: Plays with a mean streak, works to the whistle and flashes the ability to sustain blocks. Gets adequate hand placement, has decent upper body strength and can lock onto defender’s frame. Plays with a wide base and shows good balance as a run blocker. Takes sound angles to blocks, shows good range for size and can get into position at the second level. Has long arms, moves feet well and can ride defenders past the pocket. Possesses good lateral mobility, can change directions quickly and flashes the ability to counter double moves. Shows good awareness, keeps head on a swivel and can adjust to line stunts as well as blitzes. Possesses good size and has the frame to comfortably get bigger. Has experience lining up at guard and is somewhat versatile.

Weaknesses: Lacks ideal explosiveness and has some problems beating defenders to the point of attack. Doesn’t deliver a violent initial punch, doesn’t roll hips into blocks and isn’t going to knock many defenders back. While flashes good lower body strength doesn’t play with great leverage and isn’t a great drive-blocker at this point. Takes too long to get into pass set and is going to have problems preventing explosive edge rushers from turning the corner. Though flashes ability to anchor against bull rushers doesn’t get great knee bend in pass set and can get pushed back into the pocket.

Overall: Marten arrived at Boston College in 2002 and was redshirted. As a redshirt freshman in 2003, he appeared in all 13 games while backing up Jeremy Trueblood, and started the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl at right tackle. Marten became a fulltime starter in 2004 at left guard for all 12 games that season. In 2005, he once again started all 12 contests at left guard. Marten then moved to left tackle for the 2006 season, where he started all 13 games, earning second-team All-ACC honors.

Marten doesn’t dominate the point of attack and one-gap defenders will give him some problems. On the positive side, Marten has enough physical tools to develop into a starter, including an excellent frame and above-average athletic ability for his height. That’s why we believe Marten is underrated and warrants consideration on Day 1.’s Rob Phillips:

Marc Colombo secured the Cowboys’ starting right tackle spot with a hard-nosed, gritty style of play. Third-round pick James Marten shares a similar mauling method at offensive tackle. Maybe it’s their Boston College roots. “It’s just a blue-collar mentality,” said Marten, the Cowboys’ second and final pick Saturday (67th overall) following three previous trades. “We’re just going to go out there and hit you and run you over, basically.”

Marten’s size (6-7, 303) resembles that of the Cowboys’ incumbent left tackles, Flozell Adams and Pat McQuistan, who each stand taller than 6-5 and weigh more than 300 pounds. Marten played mostly left tackle but can switch to the right side and also was versatile enough to move inside at guard in college.

The Cowboys drafted Marten as a tackle, but team owner and general manager Jerry Jones said their third-round pick doesn’t merely serve as insurance with Adams entering the final year of his contract. “My speculation is that we’re going to have a really top year from Flozell and hopefully that’ll mean we can look into the future,” Jones said of his Pro Bowl tackle, who made a successful return from a season-ending knee injury in 2005. “What this does is add to at least two and possibly three young players that we’ve got backing up our first five right now.”

Marten is a prime example of Jones’ belief that the Cowboys had their “bases covered” heading into Saturday. The club believes he can provide depth at multiple positions next season. The Cowboys had little stability at offensive line when the off-season began, but they re-signed Colombo and starting center Andre Gurode and handed free-agent Leonard Davis nearly $18.75 million in guaranteed money. Veteran Marco Rivera’s off-season back surgery could ultimately jeopardize his career, but he and the Cowboys don’t appear in any rush to make a decision on his future. Davis could start at right guard next season if Rivera doesn’t return. “We have come a long way from where we were the early part of the spring to where we are today with our offensive line,” Jones said.

Marten just might be the final piece.

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