The "Seahawks Sleepers" series is a flurry of quick scouting reports on some players that I've identified as potential targets for Seattle. My goal with this series is to highlight a few players that John Schneider, Pete Carroll and their scouting team might be interested in, and to give a brief synopsis as to why. For the most part, I'm high on the guys that I'll be pointing out - and I'll be monitoring them during the Draft and in Rookie Free Agency. Also, for the most part, these are mid- to later-round prospects, because let's be honest, you're probably sick of reading about first- and second-round type guys.
LEO Eric Martin, Nebraska - 6'1, 245
Eric Martin is Seahawky in so many ways. First off, he's undersized for a defensive end at a mere 6'1, 245, and came to Lincoln without much fanfare. He was a core special teamer his first couple of seasons but after moving from linebacker to defensive end his junior year, he was able to break into the starting lineup by his fourth season. He made the most of it - racking up 8.5 sacks and a staggering 16.5 tackles for a loss in 2012. Production.
As you may or may not know, my dad is a rabid Nebraska fan and he gushed about Martin when I asked him for a scouting report. Martin was a fan favorite for his relentless and haphazard style of play - he was nicknamed 'Caveman' for what I can only assume to be a primal, instinctual and violent demeanor on the field. He's the kind of guy, said my dad, that hits you so hard that he hurts himself, but he gets up laughing about it. 'Loves ball,' as you hear Seattle coaches saying so often.
When you look up Eric Martin on YouTube the only three or four videos worth watching are highlights of him knocking out opposing players cold on kickoff returns, which I think is a fairly apt way to represent him as a prospect. I mean, seriously, in the video above, the dude just looks dead on his feet when Martin hits him (he didn't die).
I see Martin, if Pete Carroll gets a glowing review from his friend, Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini, as a core special teams ace for the Hawks - much in the way that Heath Farwell has carved out a role for himself on the roster. Martin isn't going to be a guy that you depend on as a mainstay on the defensive line, but I wouldn't be totally adverse to using him in nickel packages to rush the passer or throwing him in at linebacker for some blitz work. Think Dexter Davis - another 7th round pick at defensive end that measured in at about 6'1, 245.
When I read CBS.com's scouting report on Martin, I almost get giddy in anticipation because this guy seriously just screams Seahawks defense:
Strengths: Very good first step quickness and strong plant foot to dig in and explode. Good initial power into the blocker and uses his length well to get around blockers. Uses his hands to bully blockers backwards and brings energy off the edge. Uses his wingspan to corral ballcarriers or knock the ball out. Active, quick feet to drop and cover in space. Very physical and arrives to the ballcarrier with a nasty attitude. Tough guy to contain and can dominate in one-on-one situations. Experience at both left and right defensive end and loves to get in the opposition's head.
At 6'1, 245, he registered some insane numbers at his pro day: a swift 4.53 40 is impressive in its own right, but his agility drills were off the charts - registering a 3.97 short shuttle and a 6.63 in the 3-cone drill. For perspective, that 40 would have been 2nd at the Combine among all DL and LB, his short shuttle first by a LONG shot, and his 3-cone number would have been 3rd among all players - including defensive backs and receivers. We know Seattle likes speed, and Martin has it in spades.
This kid is a coiled spring, ready to release and inflict violence. Hell, I could even see some teams showing interest in Martin as a fullback type, something similar to what the Niners did with Bruce Miller a couple seasons back.
Regardless, I like Martin for the Seahawks and wouldn't bat an eye if Seattle used one of their several 7th round picks on the guy. Throw him in there and see if you could get some production from him on special teams and possibly as a situational pass rusher, and he could serve as the emergency fullback in a pinch. Everyone loves two-way players.