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Zack Martin needs to be Travis Frederick

IRVING, Texas -- Last April, the Cowboys traded down in the first round and selected center Travis Frederick.

He took over the starting job in his rookie season and gave the Cowboys confidence that he will maintain in that spot for several seasons.

On Thursday night, the Cowboys made not only what was a considered a safe pick, but drafted someone whom Jason Garrett called, "a damn good football player" in tackle/guard Zack Martin.

So now Martin will compete at one of the two interior offensive line positions and try to do what Frederick did: earn a starting job.

"I'm looking to come in here and compete and I want to come in there and compete from day one," Martin said. "So obviously, I want to come in there and be on the field and help the team win, so yeah, that's my goal."

It's a realistic goal for Martin because the Cowboys need youth and talented players for the offensive line.

Garrett said Martin brings a versatility to the offensive line where he can play all five positions but in 2014 he will be asked to play guard. Garrett didn't say which guard spot Martin will play. It's assumed he can pair up with Doug Free on the right side. Martin played left tackle in college, but in the pros learning from a veteran such as Free could be important to his development.

"He played inside at the Senior Bowl," Garrett said of Martin. "He did a very good job there. People believe he can play center. A lot of people argue he can play all five spots on the offensive line, so initially we're giving him the chance to work inside as an offensive guard and see how he holds up there. Very favorable from the Senior Bowl in working inside. He does have position flex, a lot of experience playing outside and we can see he can play across the board on the offensive line."

This team is trying to get younger along the offensive line and expects draft picks to contribute quickly.

It's not depending on finding gems such as Andre Gurode (second round, 2002) or Flozell Adams (second round, 1998) in the draft to emerge into starters.

Finding solid players in free agency such as Leonard Davis and Kyle Kosier is not guaranteed every season.

So now the Cowboys are hoping draft picks such as Tyron Smith (first-rounder in 2011), Frederick and now Martin will be strong players to protect a 34-year-old quarterback in Tony Romo.

"One of my biggest strengths, I think, is my versatility," Martin said. "Like I told them, I am willing to play anything they need me to do to help the team."