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Mel Kiper: Zack Martin is best rookie

IRVING, Texas – Last month, I wondered if Zack Martin could win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Now, ESPN Insider Mel Kiper is calling the Dallas Cowboys right guard the NFL’s best rookie.

Martin was ahead of Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Oakland linebacker Khalil Mack and Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.

An interesting note: the Cowboys were heavily tied to Donald and Barr leading up to the draft.

It’s an Insider piece, but here is what Kiper had to say about Martin:

"The story of the season for Dallas has been the effectiveness of the offensive line. And what's remarkable about that unit is if you go through every game (and that's my Monday this year), you realize that Martin has been the most consistent player. He's been outstanding, probably a top-10 player at the position league-wide. And remember, this is a guy who could flip outside to tackle."

The sense I get from the Cowboys is that the Cowboys do not want to move Martin to tackle in the future. They didn’t give him any tackle snaps over the summer in case of any emergency scenario. They view Martin as a dominant guard and have said more than a few times that protecting Tony Romo up the middle is of incredible importance to them.

Martin has been lauded by everybody at Valley Ranch for his play, even-keeled nature and veteran presence. But he will be entering an unknown in the final six games. He has never played this many games in a season.

“That’s certainly something that comes up with guys,” coach Jason Garrett said of the rookie wall. “I think as much as anything else, what we try to focus on is trying to help our team deal with the length of the season. We try to do that with how we handle practice and some of the other things. He does act like a mature guy. He acts like a veteran player, and has from minute one. You certainly try to keep an eye on those guys, but you try to do that with your whole team, try to make the right decision logistically how you practice, how you do different things down the stretch so you can play well.”