MOBILE, Ala. — The safety position in the NFL has changed. Oklahoma State's Markelle Martin believes he has the versatility required.
“Most teams these days look for hybrid-type safeties,” said Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, “not just a guy who can play in the box as a tackling safety, but they also have to have the ability to matchup with tight ends like (New Orleans') Jimmy Graham as well as be able to get out and cover some of the faster halfbacks.”
Martin, a member of the South team, has done all of the above in this week's Senior Bowl practices and appears to be in position to be the first player from the state of Oklahoma taken in the NFL Draft in April. He is projected go in the second or third round by most analysts.
During Wednesday's practice, he broke up a pass intended for LSU tight end Deangelo Peterson. Shortly after, Martin closed quickly on a dump-off pass to Louisiana Tech running back Lennon Creer.
“I feel like I've shown that I can play in the box, which is something that has been questioned a lot, as well as cover down the field,” said Martin. “In the Big 12, we just hardly ever line up in the box. But I'm a linebacker at heart and have a good feel for what it's like to play at linebacker depth.”
At 6-3, 203 pounds, Martin expects to play both strong and free safety at the next level.
After Saturday's Senior Bowl, he'll head back to Stillwater to continue training.
“I'll go back and work out with Justin Blackmon and some of the other receivers,” Martin said. “It helps working against him.”