UNC defensive end Kareem Martin wants to see big picture in NFL draft

jjones@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 22, 2014 


UNC's Kareem Martin (95) wants to get his picture on the walls of the Kenan Football Center as an NFL first-round draft pick. He’ll play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Saturday.

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Inside the Kenan Football Center at North Carolina hangs the picture of every Tar Heel who’s played in the NFL.

Players selected in the first round of an NFL draft get a picture that’s larger than the others.

Kareem Martin wants a big picture.

Martin has stood out at the Senior Bowl as one of the best pass-rushing defensive ends, and he’s projected to go in the first two rounds.

Should a team take Martin in the first round, it would make four consecutive years a Tar Heels defensive lineman was picked on the first day.

“That would mean the world,” Martin said. “Just to continue that legacy of ‘D-line U’ at UNC would be the best thing.”

He said he’s watched former North Carolina standout Robert Quinn this season with the St. Louis Rams and has tried to integrate some of Quinn’s moves into his own game.

Martin felt like Wednesday was his most complete day, and he lined up at both end and tackle, though he had more success at right defensive end.

After consecutive four-sack seasons during his sophomore and junior years, Martin totaled 11.5 sacks as a senior, in a 4-2-5 defensive scheme.

He said he feels like he can play either the 3-4 or 4-3 defense at the pro level. If he stays at his current weight of 272 pounds, Martin feels comfortable playing outside linebacker in the 3-4 or as an end in the 4-3.

When asked which NFL player or players he’s most like, Martin kept it in state.

“I would say the ends for the Panthers,” he said. “They both have bigger ends in Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson. They’re bigger guys who power rush on the edge but they can also get around you with speed, and I see myself being that type of end at the next level.”

Donald’s day: Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald showed quick hands and explosive power Wednesday, having his way with the offensive linemen during drills Wednesday morning.

Donald blew by Baylor guard Cyril Richardson and Notre Dame tackle Zach Martin during separate drills. But one of Donald’s biggest weaknesses is something he can’t do anything about.

Donald measured at 6-foot-1, which is shorter than most NFL defensive tackles. When asked by a reporter about his height, Donald playfully turned his back and walked away.

“I got leverage. I got quickness. I can hold 600 pounds on a double team. I can shed blocks,” Donald said. “I can do everything the others can do, I just come with a plus because I got the leverage. It is what it is. I can’t get any taller but I can just keep playing hard and getting better.”

Observations: If Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews is the best receiver at the Senior Bowl, he didn’t show it Wednesday. The South’s roster is filled with late-round defensive backs playing out of position, and the past two days Matthews has played down to their level rather than dominating in practice as one would expect.

• North cornerback Pierre Desir is making a name for himself after Wednesday’s practice. He got his hands on at least two Tajh Boyd passes during the morning practice.

• The North quarterback trio of Boyd (Clemson), Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) and Stephen Morris (Miami) again looked average Wednesday. With Derek Carr (Fresno State) and Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) as the top two quarterbacks in Mobile, injured Aaron Murray (Georgia) is probably the third-best quarterback at the Senior Bowl without even throwing a pass this week.

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