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  • Taylor Martinez to the NFL: Is Brad Smith the model?

    A year from now, Husker fans will be watching the NFL draft and wondering where Taylor Martinez will be taken, and how he might be used in an NFL offense. Given his limited toolbox is as a passer, he's more likely to be used as wide receiver/kick returner/wildcat quarterback. Just stop, crazy fan -- if you think Martinez can actually be a starting NFL quarterback, watch highlights of Christian Ponder in college. That's a game manager who needs the NFL's only transcendent running back just to get his team to the playoffs.

    If it were going to be 2009, the year after Miami had popularized the wildcat, T-Magic could have had a shot at being picked as high as the mid-second, where the Dolphins took Pat White (albeit a bad pick in retrospect). In 2014, there isn't likely going to be a team that values a wild-card player that highly, but as long as you can break into space, there's a place for you in the NFL. We've seen how quickly Martinez can go from 0 to 70, and there is a precedent that could help Martinez get drafted at a good spot.

    <div style="float:left; text-align:right; width:440px; max-width:440px; margin:0 20px 10px 0;">Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports</div>The most comparable player in the NFL to Martinez is former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith, a former fourth-round pick. Like Martinez will be, Smith was a four-year college starter, a quick guy with who is now ten pounds heavier than Martinez, weight that Martinez could put on easily. Smith doesn't have many career touches (132 rushes, 101 receptions), but has averaged 9.4 yards per reception and 7.3 yards per rush during his six-year career, under imaginative coaches like Eric Mangini, Brian Schottenheimer, and Chan Gailey who knew how to use him. If Martinez ends up with the right coaches, he can make 50-60 effective touches a year, like Smith has averaged. Of course, if he does end up playing wildcat quarterback, it will likely be on a bad team that has to use the wildcat, but an NFL job is an NFL job.

    However, it's hard to go from star quarterback on a college team to NFL role player, where a player gets less attention. Consider the recent former quarterbacks who have stayed around the NFL as skill players: Antwaan Randle El (Indiana), Smith (Missouri), and Joshua Cribbs and Julian Edelman (both Kent State). No traditional powers on that list; Mizzou was still coming out of a twenty year dry-spell when Smith played there. Numerous converted quarterbacks from prominent college programs have washed out of the NFL, like Florida's Chris Leak, White, and Nebraska's own Scott Frost and Eric Crouch. They'd gotten the bright lights in college, and weren't interested in doing NFL dirty work.

    But just because Martinez will be stepping away from the Memorial Stadium and Big 10 lights, it may not mean that he will automatically bail on the NFL. He wasn't a high profile recruit and has always spoken in turn, always cool and collected. While these may be signs that he will never reach his ceiling as a college quarterback, they might be signs that he will do the dirty work necessary to stay on an NFL roster.

    Big 10 running backs do have a stigma that may stick to a prominent Big 10 running quarterback: they've taken too many hits in college and never have great NFL careers (Ron Dayne, Javon Ringer, Lawrence Maroney). Martinez has stayed healthy the last two years, and given how much he runs, he deserves some credit for just staying on the field. Dennard Robinson couldn't stay healthy as a running quarterback in the Big 10. But there is only so much pounding that Martinez's small frame can take and only so much weight he can put on.

    Ultimately, whether or not Martinez makes it as an NFL slash will depend on how much he wants to make it. He may attack route-running with the same kind of work ethic he approached improving as a passer with Steve Calhoun, or he may get a taste of an NFL camp and decide it's not for him. Or he may, like Crouch, try playing quarterback in a circuit of lesser leagues. Which, given how laid back he's appeared over the last three years, wouldn't be a huge surprise to Nebraska fans.

    Comments 9 Comments
    1. BallField78's Avatar
      BallField78 -
      Didn't he also play some D while on the scout team? Like his younger brother, he might be a good safety.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Scott Frost moved to safety and played a few years at that position in the NFL so I'm not sure how you can equate that with him not being interested in doing the "dirty work necessary to stay on an NFL roster."
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Notice you didn't mention Russell Wilson. Taylor is bigger, faster, and could well be as polished throwing the ball by the end of this year. That he can't play QB is not the given you make it out to be.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I don't know that I would put Scott Frost in the same breath with Eric Crouch. Frost had no problem changing his position to land a job in the NFL. He wasn't exactly a superstar, but he didn't try to pound a square peg into a round hold like Crouch did, and then leave with his tail between his legs when reality set in.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      "Numerous converted quarterbacks from prominent college programs have washed out of the NFL, like Florida's Chris Leak, White, and Nebraska's own Scott Frost and Eric Crouch. They'd gotten the bright lights in college, and weren't interested in doing NFL dirty work."

      Scott Frost played as a defensive back for 5 or 6 years in the NFL; I wouldn't define that as "washing out" or avoiding "dirty work."
    1. BillyDSnes's Avatar
      BillyDSnes -
      Sounds like a good idea, but I differ on your opinion about former Husker QB Scott Frost......
      Frost was drafted in the 3rd round by the New York Jets and played 6 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back.......sure he wasn't a star or even a regular starter, but made a name for himself on special teams and in the nickel defensive package.......I mean 6 years is 6 years........better than Crouch who had the speed and ability to play wideout, slotback, kick returner or defensive back but was a little arrogant on his true quarterback ability and bailed out instead........
      Martinez should find a niche in the NFL if he is willing to following some of Frost's footsteps.......
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      You don't think Colin Kaepernick is a good comparison? Stats wise fairly close thru their frist 3 season and Martinez has a better completion percentage....
    1. Skersey's Avatar
      Skersey -
      There's isn't an NFL team that would even glance in the direction of TM because he turns the ball over way too much. I'm not talking about the INT's, it's the fumbles. He's led the nation in fumbles every year he has played. If he learns to secure the ball around 90% better than what he has in the past then he might get a glance. Otherwise there isn't a prayer
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I'd say this is pretty much a TV dinner article:
      It was researched as long as it takes too cook one
      There are lots of nice looking pictures but no meat
      I read the whole thing, still hungry, wouldnt want to read it again this year
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