Our pre-draft series continues with a profile on one of the nation’s most consistent and complete power running backs.
Between the tackles is where Doug Martin has earned a blossoming reputation.
The 5-foot-9, 223-pound low-to-the-ground running back racked up 3,431 career rushing yards to go with 43 touchdowns in his four years at Boise State.
Most of Martin’s success came in between his tackles as he was able to burst through openings in the offensive line which allowed him to show off his 4.55-second, 40-yard dash speed to break away from defenders.
Martin enters the 2012 NFL Draft as one of the top prospects at his position. He also represents one of the toughest runners to tackle. Martin’s bowling ball-like appearance made him a handful for every team he faced in college football.
The Broncos runner produced throughout his collegiate career. Despite facing a non-BCS regular season schedule, Martin had several key performances against so-called power schools.
“We don't really choose our opponents,” Martin explained to reporters this offseason. “We don't really talk about that. We just go out there and prove that we can play the game.”
Now, Martin aims to prove his 263 carries, 1,299 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns last season will translate into the pro game.
In his mind, it won’t be difficult applying his “violent” running style against grown men playing on the defensive side of the ball.
“I have a lot of qualities similar to (Baltimore Ravens running back) Ray Rice, and (Jacksonville Jaguars running back) Maurice Jones-Drew,” said Martin, unafraid to compare himself to a pair of AFC Pro Bowlers. “I'm a violent runner, but elusive at the same time.”
Another factor separating from Martin: hands.
“I can catch well out of the backfield,” said Martin, who caught 28 passes in each of the last two seasons.
It’s hard to find faults in Martin’s game. His speed is above average for a runner of his size. Martin also put up 28 reps of the 225-pound bench press, in addition to posting a 36-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Martin stood on this numbers at his pro day, but contends there’s room for him to grow as he enters the National Football League.
Decisiveness and pre-snap blitz recognition are some of his self-described weaknesses. Martin will need to improve those attributes on the next level. Defenses are too fast for him to not commit to a running lane, and, pressure comes from all directions making blitz recognition an important talent for rookie runners looking to play every down.
Fortunately for Martin, Boise State featured one of the nation’s most accurate pocket passers in Kellen Moore. With the Broncos staff relying heavily on their quarterback to make smart decisions with the football, Martin was also trusted to be a personal protector in the backfield.
“I had to do a lot of that,” Martin explained. “We faced a lot of blitzes, trying to get at Kellen. We had quite a few pickup calls, and calls at the line, and we had to go to those for the pass protections.”
Martin has continued to grow throughout his college career, not just mentally, but physically.
Playing around 217 pounds for most of the season, Martin put on weight this offseason during the pre-draft process, but had a solid explanation, “I'm a growing boy, you know?”
Martin’s increased bulk will lend itself to the rigors of pro football. Already, Martin has 617 career carries under his belt, but feels like he’s just hitting his stride as a top-end runner.
In eight of his final 10 games of 2011, Martin surpassed the 100-yard mark. Furthermore, Martin finished his Boise State career off solidly with 31 rushes for 151 yards and one touchdown in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.
Martin has made sure to tap into the brains of former college teammates already on NFL rosters. The intent was to understand the NFL lifestyle and the demands of playing at the highest level.
“I've heard that it's faster, the guys are a lot bigger, and the coaches demand more,” Martin said.
It won’t be a problem for Martin, who prides himself on playing with a chip on his shoulder much like his college teammates who’ve worked to earn greater respect for the Broncos football program.
“Through my career at Boise State, we've all had chips on our shoulders,” Martin said. “Senior Bowl, I felt like I was the best running back there, and I proved to a bunch of scouts that I can play with the big guys. But yeah, I definitely have a chip on my shoulder."
Pretty soon, Martin will lower that shoulder into opposing defenses.