Round 4: Blake Martinez, ILB
The Packers needed an inside linebacker, so the Packers got an inside linebacker. Just like last year with Jake Ryan, Green Bay found their man in the fourth round.
This pick has been widely lauded by many sources, including from draftniks Mel Kiper Jr. (who graded Green Bay well for their draft, with the ability to move Clay Matthews back to his usual OLB pass rushing slot being a major plus within his case) and Todd McShay (who thinks his lateral mobility will bring help in terms of coverage), plus the draft analysis over on NFL.com.
Martinez lead Stanford with 102 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and three picks in 2014 (his first year as a starter). He followed that up with an even more impressive line: 141 tackles, including six for loss, and an interception.
Martinez brings run stuffing ability to combine with capable coverage ability, and has already been discussed as an option to take over the dime linebacker role which Joe Thomas held most of 2015. He has good power for his size, and uses it well.
Unlike other guys who were thought of as possible ILB picks (such as the much maligned Scooby Wright), he notably keeps his calm; while fiery play is something that can work for guys (I still think Scooby will end up doing well if given the chance in Cleveland), I’m sure coaches love to have guys with a more even-keel holding down the fort in the heart of their defenses.
Another big thing working for him is his team-first mindset. He’s a guy who will put aside his own personal goals to do what the team needs; there is much talk of him immediately contributing on special teams, and I could see him still doing so even if he has a designated spot within the defense.
His isn’t without flaws; he’s kind of slow, likely won’t recover well out of being stuck on a block, and has proved able to be tricked too often in the play-action game.
Despite the weaknesses — which in most cases, unlike players above him, probably aren’t really able to be fixed due to physical limitation — he should still prove to be a solid player on a defense that, if things work well elsewhere on the unit, won’t really need him to do anything seismic to be an upgrade.
Next: Dean Lowry