The Buffalo Bills’ defense has been inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they’ve transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. Some players throughout the front seven that were productive in Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz’ defensive schemes that were based on 4-3 concepts haven’t been able to replicate that success in their new roles. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez.
The Tucson, Arizona native amassed 255 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 5 interceptions and 6 passes defensed. His senior year, Martinez was All PAC-12 1st teamer and 3rd team All American.
Blake Martinez is 6’2 and 239 pounds and plays like his hair is on fire. Blake sees the ball, gets the ball. When flowing to the ball at no point is there a fear that Martinez won’t get there in time. I would say that the biggest knock on Martinez athletically will be his hips in terms of drops and opening up towards his coverage target.
Blake Martinez’ experience with a multiple 3-4 defense at Stanford would serve him well in Buffalo. In particular, his ability to get into his rush lane as well as set up a lane for teammates is something Rex will appreciate:
One thing Rex will not appreciate is the occasional whiff Martinez had with a clean shot at the QB:
Blake Martinez is very instinctive vs the run, going around or through blockers to get to the ball-carrier.
In Buffalo’s defense, he’d be similar to Kiko under Pettine, in that he’s going to be flowing around and over blocks, rather than through them:
For linebackers, particularly coming to the Bills potentially, I’ve set up a Voigt-Kamff* test for coverage – can you carry a running back out of the backfield on a wheel or out wide on a fade? In the case of Martinez, most of the drops I saw were zone hook-curl-flat plays and no man coverage of note. Because of that absence, I’d be careful putting Martinez in that situation against, say the Patriots…
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
While Martinez may not pass the coverage test, his ability to read and diagnose the run, coupled with his fearless tackling makes him a solid prospect to bring in as a ST/depth linebacker year one – and let his play dictate where he goes from there. My hope would be by year two he can rotate in on early downs until he proves that his man coverage can hold up against teams like the Pats that will want to spread the defense out as much as possible.
*If you knew what Voigt-Kamff was prior to googling it, Kudos.