The draft rumors and speculation are flying fast and furious now. Over the last couple of years, the running back position has been devalued in the NFL, mostly due to it becoming a "passing league" and the short shelf-life of the backs. Over those same past few years, less and less high picks have been used on running backs, with only one used last season in the Saints' Mark Ingram. In fact, a lot of the premier backs in the NFL today were found outside of the first round, such as LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice.
The consensus opinion for this year was that there would only be one back drafted in the first round once again--that back being Alabama's Trent Richardson. But, there's growing chatter that there might be another back that could be picked in the first round. According to ESPN's draft analyst, Todd McShay, it's sounding more and more realistic that Martin will be off the board on the first day in the draft.
Todd McShay on Doug Martin: "The more I talk to people in the NFL, the more I think he's gonna come off the board in the 1st round."
Martin's stock has been slowly rising since the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine in February. There seemed to be a bit of jockeying for the title of "second best running back prospect" between Martin, Miami's Lamar Miller and Virginia Tech's David Wilson. Thanks to some great workouts and more exposure to his game tapes, it appears that Martin has gotten a stranglehold on that title.
Martin's skill set is similar to the aforementioned Jones-Drew and Rice. He is a little shorter, but built well at 5'9" and 225 pounds and runs well between the tackles. He also catches the ball very well and even provides some kickoff return ability. The Bengals have expressed interest in the back, as both Marvin Lewis and Jay Gruden personally attended his Boise State University Pro Day workout. While the team has recently signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to lead their committee backfield, Martin is an instant impact player and can help the team immediately in a variety of ways.
If the Bengals pass on him at No.21, other possibilities where Martin could land include division rival Cleveland at No.22, should they pass on Trent Richardson. He could also wind up in Detroit at No.23, Pittsburgh at No.24, Denver at No.26, Green Bay at No.28, New England at No.31, or with the New York Giants at No.32. Given that gauntlet he'll have to get through to slip into the second round, McShay's prediction seems very realistic.