During his collegiate career Jonathan Martin was the most important offensive lineman protecting one of college football's most important assets.
Martin, whom the Miami Dolphins selected in the second-round of the 2012 draft, spent three years protecting Andrew Luck's blindside at Stanford.
He started all 26 games at left tackle in his three seasons at Stanford, anchored an offensive line that allowed only 18 sacks over the last two seasons (2010-11).
Fast forward past Martin's rookie season in the NFL, where he spent most of 2012 as the Dolphins' starting right tackle, and it seems like the fate of Miami's entire offense rests on Martin's shoulders.
The Dolphins have spent over $200 million this offseason improving this year's team, especially the offense. But if Martin isn't able to replace Jake Long, effectively protecting Ryan Tannehill's blindside, the entire season will likely be lost because the offense will be handcuffed.
Martin spent most of his offseason training with his Stanford teammates in California. He's been putting in intense weight room sessions that have gotten his shoulders significantly broader. He's put on about 10 pounds of muscle and the hope is that improving his functional strength will help him perform better against bull rushers.
"I think it will help a lot. It'll give me a little better anchor when I'm playing against some of the bigger defensive ends," Martin said. "As long as you can move with it I think it gives you an advantage. It was one of the things coaches told me to focus on this offseason and I took that to heart."
Considering Martin was rated the NFL's 76th best offensive tackle in 2012, it is clear he needed to make some drastic improvements if he's going to become the left tackle the Dolphins need.
Last season Martin had negative metrics in every area of ProFootballFocus.com's position ratings but penalties (he committed just five). Martin allowed six sacks, four quarterback hits and 47 quarterback hurries in his 16 starts as a rookie.
The 47 quarterback hurries were the most of ANY offensive lineman in the NFL last season. In order for Miami to produce a respectable offense this season Martin will need to cut that number of hurries allowed in half.
"I've played that position for a long time. I feel at home there," Martin said about his switch from the right side to the left, where he played five games last season as the replacement for an injured Long. "I have a lot of experience there and I'm going to do whatever I can to get the job done."
This video shows the worst of who Martin was as a rookie. But keep in mind he played 1,053 snaps last season, and maybe 100 of them were troublesome plays. Remember, even the best offensive linemen get beaten each game.
The biggest challenge Martin faces is cutting down those 100 bad snaps to 50. If he can do that in 2013 the Dolphins' veteran offensive line should be able to thrive.
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