When the Tennessee Titans selected Mike Martin with their third-round pick Friday night, it added to a defensive tackle group that is already long on numbers.
The Titans already have Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Sen'Derrick Marks, Shaun Smith and Zach Clayton at the position. In most years, Tennessee keeps only five defensive tackles on the 53-man roster, and one of those guys usually can swing outside to end in certain packages or in an emergency injury situation.
Martin, a three-year starter at Michigan, has been praised for his high motor, and ability to draw double teams from opposing offensive lines. His size will help to clog up the rushing lanes.
“He is a guy that gets leverage, he gets in the gap, he gets the guard, and is quick off the snap.” Mike Munchak said, “He is a guy that just makes plays.”
On the other end of the spectrum Smith not only underachieved, but was almost taken out of the Titans rotation completely by the end last season.
Smith signed a three-year $7.25 million contract late in July in 2011, but the question now becomes whether or not the well-traveled veteran could be the odd man out.
Releasing Smith, who is scheduled to make $1.75 million this year and $2.5 million in base in 2013, would save a net of $3.25 million on the salary cap, as there would be a $1 million prorated portion remaining for the final two years of his original $1.5 million signing bonus.
“I didn’t feel like I played to the ability that I should have. I didn’t play at a high level,” Smith said in January, admitting he was not in the best of playing shape.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray believes Smith had trouble adjusting to the 4-3 defense after a history in 3-4.
It will be interesting to see if Martin makes that a moot point with the veteran defensive tackle.