Martin Will Have an Immediate Impact at Nickel | Washington Commanders
By Adam Aniba
On Day 2 of the NFL Draft, the Washington Commanders selected Illinois defensive back Jartavius "Quan" Martin in Round 2 #47 overall. After selecting Emmanuel Forbes (CLICK for Report) with the first selection in Round 1 #16 overall, Ron Rivera doubled down and selected another defensive back.
After selecting Forbes, who is viewed as an outside corner, question arose if Benjamin St-Juste or Kendall Fuller could slide into the nickel slot role. That in addition to Martin's scouting report, will be discussed in the article.
Jartavius "Quan" Martin
5'11" 194 lbs | DB | Illinois
Drafted Rd 2 #47 overall
Career (50 games) 225 TAK (148 solo), 10.5 TFL, 1.0 SACK, 2 FR, 3 FF, 7 INTs & 22 PD
2022 (13 games) 64 TAK (51 solo), 3.0 TFL, 3 INT, 1.0 SACK, 2 FF & 11 PD
Martin grew up in Lehigh Acres, FL and played defensive back for Lehigh Acres HS. As a senior he registered 87 tackles, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery and was ranked as a 3-star recruit, as well as the #101 safety in the nation by ESPN.
Martin received minimal attention during the recruiting process, ultimately accepting an offer to play for the University of Illinois.
As a freshman in '18, Martin played in 10 games with 8 starts at corner (mostly nickel). He finished the season with 42 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, 3 pass breakups and 3 interceptions (2nd on the team).
Martin was one of two true freshmen in the nation, that recorded multiple interceptions in the first three games of the season. He was the only true freshman since Vontae Davis (2006) to start the season opener and the first to record an interception in his first game (vs Kent ST. 9/1/18) since 1980.
In '19 Martin was active in 12 games with 5 starts, recording 23 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 2 fumbles recovered on the season (4th in the Big Ten in fumble recoveries). Towards the middle of the season Martin moved to safety
In 2020 Martin played in all 8 games in a COVID shortened season. He recorded 38 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 2 pass breakups.
Martin had his most productive year in '21 through four seasons, registering 55 tackles (5th on team), 3 tackles for a loss, 1 interception, 7 pass breakups (2nd on team) and 1 forced fumble.
PFF ranked Martin with their #2 overall tackling grade (88.8) among Big Ten corners in 2021.
The Illinois defensive back lined up in the slot and safety having his best game vs Maryland (9/17/21), in which he put up 10 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 forced fumble and 1 pass breakup.
Martin took advantage of the extra year of eligibility returning for the '22 season and for the second consecutive season, Martin would start every game (13 games).
The Fighting Illini defensive back was used all over the defensive backfield in '22, registering 64 total tackles (led team w/ 51 solo tak), 3.0 tackles for a loss, 1.0 sack, 3 interceptions, 11 pass breakups, 1 QB pressure, and 2 forced fumbles on the season.
His versatility to disguise coverages with the ability to play in the slot and as a single-high safety, make Martin a unique prospect.
Martin received a (90.4) PFF grade, which ranked him #3 among the nations cornerbacks. He also ranked #3 in the Big Ten in passes defended (14), #8 in the Big Ten in interceptions (3), #2 on the team in pass breakups (11).
His performance vs Wyoming (8/27/22) where he registered 7 tackles and 3 pass breakups, led to him being named the Bednarik Award National Player of the Week.
Provides versatility as a nickel cornerback and safety
Aggressive and reliable takler in run support
Effective in zone or man coverage
Displayed significant gains with contested catches and timing when highpointing 50/50 balls
Shows good route recognition, most notably when diagnosing underneath routes
Backpedal is a bit choppy and requires refinement
Had issues when asked to consistently cover athletic tight ends
Struggles at times to recover and make up ground if out of position
More read & react at times, needs to have an attack mentality and trust his instincts
Risk taking works against him on occasion, too often will attempt to jump routes when his eyes are locked onto the QB
Martin started 15 of 30 games during his first three season with the Fighting Illini. He became a permanent starter his last two seasons, thriving in his role at the nickel. Martin also showed his versatility lining up as a single-high safety.
Martin will fill former DB Bobby McCain's role as the nickel/safety in Del Rio's defense, but provides more size, athleticism and explosion (4.46 second forty and 44" vertical leap). Martin also will play a role in Buffalo Nickel sub-packages.
Martin provides experience with over 2,500 defensive career snaps on defense and also was a mainstay special teamer in kick coverage, punt return coverage and field goal block unit (over 300 snaps).
Although Martin will deal with growing pains if thrust into action early, his upside gives Del Rio more freedom to disguise coverages and be more aggressive.
Deploying Martin in a variety of ways should help this defense take it to the next level this season, after ranking 13th overall in pass defense, but 26th in takeaways during the '22 season.
*Games Watched- 8/27/22 vs Wyoming, 10/8 vs Iowa, 11/5 vs Mich St., 11/12 vs Purdue, 11/19 vs Mich & 1/2 vs Miss St.