During free agency, the Jets signed former Houston Texans defensive end Jacob Martin to a three-year deal in free agency. Today we break him down in detail.
The 26-year old Martin is listed at 6’2” and 242 pounds and was a sixth round pick out of Temple in 2018. He has recorded 13.5 sacks in four seasons, including a career-high four in 2021.
Martin was a two-star prospect out of high school and earned a place at Temple. For his first three seasons, Martin was just a backup, registering a total of 36 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
However, in 2017, he became a starter and broke out with 44 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown and was named as a second team all-AAC selection.
While he wasn’t invited to the scouting combine, Martin had a solid pro day to improve his chances of being a late round pick. Seattle eventually selected him in the sixth round.
In his first season with the Seahawks, he was a core special teamer and recorded 10 tackles and three sacks in a reserve role on defense.
After preseason in 2019, he went the other way in the Jadeveon Clowney trade and was a reserve with the Texans over the next two seasons. He had 11 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2019 and 20 tackles and three more sacks in 2020, where he also made his first NFL start.
In 2021, the Texans changed their system and Martin’s role increased dramatically. He started 14 of the last 15 games and played almost 700 snaps. He ended the season with career-highs in tackles (23), tackle for loss (five), sacks (four) and passes defensed (three).
The Jets signed Martin to a three-year deal worth up to $16.5 million during free agency.
Now let’s take a look at what Martin brings to the table, divided into categories.
Martin is undersized as he is officially listed as 242, although he was listed at 250 in the past. He presumably bulked up a bit last season to cope with the Texans’ scheme change.
He weighed in at just 236 at his pro day where his vertical, bench press and short shuttle were about average but his 40-yard dash (4.59), broad jump and three-cone drill were all good.
Martin mostly played as an outside linebacker for his first two seasons with the Texans, occasionally playing off the ball, matching up in the slot and dropping into coverage. However, he moved into a full time defensive end role in 2021.
In college he primarily played on the edge but would also rush from the nose tackle position in certain situations.
Martin works hard in the trenches and will keep coming after the quarterback even once he’s been blocked initially.
In college, he played less than 35 percent of the snaps in each of his first three seasons before moving into a bigger role but then once again was a part-time player for his first three NFL seasons. However, he showed an ability to handle a starter’s workload in 2021 as he played almost 700 snaps.
Martin has a quick get-off and has the ability to bend coming around the edge. He has a decent approach and shows the ability to counter when initially blocked. Once he gets free his closing speed is impressive.
Despite these abilities, his pressure percentages have been solid but nothing special and actually reduced slightly in 2021 as his role increased. There are times when his lack of size makes it too easy for the lineman to redirect him or take him down.
With his lack of size, Martin could potential be a liability against the run because he is susceptible to down blocks and can be dominated once bigger tackles get their claws into him.
However, his increased playing time in 2021 are a sign he’s started to improve in this area. His awareness has got better and he battles well to hold his ground against tight ends and can use his quickness to avoid blocks and shoot gaps.
Martin has some solid pass rush moves and understands how to set up his blocker. On this play his jab step is timed up with a cross chop to get his blocker’s hands off and then he transitions into a rip move to get around the edge.
The cross-chop has always been his preferred move, but his hands are very busy generally and he does a good job of creating separation.
Martin only has average length but can use a long arm move with an inside counter and will also use a spin move from time to time.
Much like his brother Josh, who developed into a starter with the Jets, Martin started off as a special teamer but gradually improved his defensive contributions to the point where his special teams duties were reduced significantly.
He has played in a variety of roles with Seattle and Houston, on every single unit. He had four special teams tackles in his rookie year.
Martin has never been a particularly productive tackler but his range and closing speed mean that he is capable of making plays in space. On this play, he was tasked with spying Lamar Jackson on third down and missed the tackle.
Martin didn’t drop into coverage at all in 2021, having done so a handful of times per game in 2020. He doesn’t generally look very comfortable in space.
He shows an ability to drop in limited situations, slowing up the receiver here and making the open field tackle short of the marker.
In 2021, he contributed against the pass by batting down three passes down at the line of scrimmage.
Martin is regarded as a smart player and shows an ability to learn from his mistakes. He crashed down too aggressively on a read option play early in the season, leading to a Sam Darnold touchdown. However, here he stayed at home and picked up a safety.
His instincts in coverage are less reliable. On this play, he gets caught up on the inside as he chips the tight end and can’t get to the running back in the flat.
He doesn’t seem to have many mental errors but has been offside three times at the snap in his career so far.
Martin is regarded as having a good work ethic and being a leader. In Houston, Bill O’Brien said he was a great teammate on the field and in the locker room and meetings. He also praised how hard Martin practices.
In his junior year at Temple, Martin was awarded a single-digit number, which means he was considered to be one of the toughest members of the team.
His on-field discipline has been solid with only five career penalties, including one for illegal use of the hands and one for roughing the passer.
Martin, like virtually all of the Jets’ offseason additions, has been extremely durable, as he played 50 games in college and has only missed four in four seasons at the NFL level.
He missed two games with a knee injury at the end of the 2019 season but played in all 17 last year, which was something only a handful of Jets player managed to do.
When Lovie Smith arrived in Houston, some thought it might be bad news for Martin whose lack of size would logically make him a better fit on a 3-4 team. However, he thrived in a 4-3 defensive end role and the Jets obviously hope he can do the same thing with them in 2022 and beyond.
Martin has been a teammate of current Jets tackle George Fant while he was with the Seahawks.
A few years ago, Jordan Jenkins was arguably the Jets’ best edge defender as he led the Jets in sacks in 2019 and was tied for the team lead in 2018. However, in Houston, Martin and Jenkins were in direct competition and Martin ended up winning a starting role and outproducing the former Jet.
Despite this, he’s coming in to take on a reserve role which is a sign of how much the Jets have improved their depth at the edge defender positions since 2019.
Martin may not have much in the way of untapped potential but he’s a solid reserve who can give you good production off the bench and hold his own if required to start. His three-year deal could easily mean he could be moved next year if he is surplus to requirements but if he does well, they have him at a reasonable rate for the next few seasons.
With Carl Lawson and Bryce Huff returning from injury and at least one high draft pick expected to be incoming, Martin might have to battle for playing time. However, Robert Saleh likes to rotate his linemen, so Martin could play a significant role in 2022.