What will Jartavius Martin bring to the Washington Commanders?
By Dean Jones
What will Jartavius Martin bring to the Washington Commanders after the franchise made him their No. 47 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft?
After Ron Rivera and the Washington Commanders basked in the glory of taking Emmanuel Forbes with their first-round pick, it was time to return to the task at hand. Those in power have seven other selections to strengthen problem positional groups and perhaps allow for a luxury or two along the way, which will go a long way to determining how competitive the team will become next season.
Some needs were more glaring than others. Especially considering the moves elsewhere within the NFC East as the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys both bolstered their defensive front with some high-quality college recruits.
Rivera has always been keen to state that nothing is off the table. Multiple reports also suggest that the ownership group led by Josh Harris is not having an influence on the process despite their purchase of the Commanders entering the final few weeks before completion.
Commanders draft Jartavius Martin at No. 47 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft
The football side of things is all that matters currently. And despite Washington spending their opening pick on their secondary, it didn’t stop them from taking Jartavius Martin at No. 47 overall.
To say this was met with a mixed reaction among the fans would be understating things slightly. Especially considering O’Cyrus Torrence and John Michael Schmitz were available.
That does not detract from what a solid prospect Martin is. He comes with an Illinois program that boasted one of the most consistent secondaries in college football last season and played a significant role in their success across multiple positions.
Martin’s main strength comes against the run. He comes downfield with supreme force and has no trouble laying the wood to leave opposing runners dead in their tracks.
While Martin is technically sound in coverage and has decent hands, he is susceptible to speedier players, which means a future at safety or nickel seems more realistic than an outside cornerback role. That’s what makes the pick so strange.
The Commanders have an outstanding young safety tandem in Kamren Curl and Darrick Forrest. High hopes also remain for Percy Butler after flashing as a rookie, so perhaps operating as a physical slot option against tight ends and bigger wideouts is Rivera’s preferred option.
After selecting Forbes in Round No. 1, it was thought Kendall Fuller might handle these responsibilities. There are plenty of options, but not much in the way of clarity.
Rivera will speak on his reasoning shortly, one suspects. Martin has the athletic attributes to be a solid pro within Jack Del Rio’s scheme, even if it might have to be as a rotational presence initially before the coaching staff decides where he’s best-suited long-term.
The Commanders might address the offensive line next. But after what’s transpired over the first two rounds, there’s just no telling for sure.
It’s not the player that I have a problem with. It’s the need and lack of offensive focus when it’s clearly their weak link.
And with Harris watching on closely, Rivera better know what he’s doing.