Zack Martin an Olin Kreutz-type leader

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys loved everything about Zack Martin, which is why they made him the 16th pick in the NFL draft's first round on Thursday.

The Notre Dame offensive lineman started 52 games, including 50 at left tackle. He will play guard for the Cowboys in 2014 with the possibility of moving to tackle in the future. He was a two-year captain. He was even the MVP of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

ESPN’s Notre Dame blogger Matt Fortuna offers up this post about Martin:

Perhaps no greater compliment has been paid to Zack Martin than these words from Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, formerly of the Chicago Bears:

"The best leader I've ever been around is Olin Kreutz from the Bears, and Zack's in that category. Zack's in that conversation. Zack brings it every day."

Hiestand said that before Martin's senior season and pre-draft workouts, which have only strengthened his status among pro teams looking for strong play up front. "Sure thing" has been a phrased often used lately to describe Martin, and his college career reflects that: He won the Irish's top offensive lineman award four straight years. He was a two-time captain. He set the school record for starts, with 52 in a row. At 6-foot-4, 308 pounds, he could play inside, but NFL teams drafting him so high would probably be wise to play him at his natural position.

His synergy with fellow linemen — especially on combo blocks — was impressive throughout 2013, especially considering he was one of only two Irish linemen to start all 13 games. What's more impressive is the fact that his quarterback, the non-mobile Tommy Rees, was sacked just eight times in 2013. Or the fact that Notre Dame was the only team in 2013 to hold prized prospect Aaron Donald without a tackle for loss.

People around the program loved to talk about Martin's dependability, and how that belied just how good of a player he was. The past four months have allowed the rest of the football world to see that for themselves.