Chicago Sun-Times

Bears could consider Troy's Sherrod Martin at cornerback first

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Cornerback or free safety?

That is the question teams have to kick around when they consider Sherrod Martin. Versatility is a good thing to have and the Troy defensive back is an intriguing prospect for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his 6-1, 198-pound frame and the 4.38-second time he turned in for the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Consider Martin the latest in a line of productive NFL players that are coming out of the Alabama program. DeMarcus Ware, Osi Umenyiora and Leodis McKelvin have gotten the attention of scouts in recent years and now the Sun Belt school is a can't-miss stop.

"It's a big help,'' Martin said of the players who came before him. "But you have to be able to play the game. It just shows that those guys are competitive players and real talented and Troy is producing guys who can play in the NFL. It's on the map.''

The Bears certainly didn't miss Martin. As we reported here, the Bears put Martin through a private workout on campus April 3. It was one of four workouts Martin has had. He's also taken two official visits to AFC teams, and he's expected to be selected in the second or third rounds. New secondary coach Jon Hoke put Martin through the workout and then they went to the classroom where they did some X's and O's work on the board before watching film and talking about the difference in schemes.

Martin played free safety at Troy but got some work at the Senior Bowl at cornerback. He might not be quite thick enough for NFL standards at free safety but as Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News pointed out, Martin measures as one of the top five biggest corners in the draft, an asset against bigger wide receivers.

"We've talked internally about it,'' Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said about Martin's position when we inquired about him this afternoon. "We like the player. He certainly has outstanding athletic ability, he's got a good makeup but again that is beauty in the eye of the beholder."

To Martin, it doesn't matter where he winds up.

"I'll be comfortable anywhere in the secondary,'' he said. "I have more experience at safety but at corner, I'm a fast learner. At safety in the NFL there would be more things for me to learn. Coming into the NFL, it's going to be a learning period anyway. Each day I am there I am going to get more comfortable. I feel comfortable playing either spot.

"For the most part, they are going to let me determine where I am going to play. They'll try me at corner and if I am good there, I'll play corner. If not, I'll try safety. They're looking at me as a versatile guy.''

One concern about Martin is his health. He had surgery on his right shoulder in December 2005 and then there was a surgery on his left shoulder 14 months later. He took a medical redshirt in 2006 came back and broke his hand requiring surgery.

The hand isn't an issue but no team wants to draft a player with a couple of bad shoulders, especially anyone they are considering at safety. The Bears require their cornerbacks to contribute so much in run support, he'd be a difficult match for them with bad shoulders.

"That is something I knew everyone was going to look into,'' Martin said. "Going through the physical, having my shoulders X-rayed and with the MRI's, nothing has come up with my shoulders since then. They were curious about it before I got there and wanted to evaluate me. It all went well.''

The Bears have a meeting directly after the combine when they have finished gathering all of the medical reports on players. It's at that point that they eliminate players from consideration who fail their medical grade. That Hoke was dispatched to work Martin out is evidence the Bears feel comfortable with his health and durability. To get Martin, the Bears would probably have to act in the second round with their pick at No. 49 overall. He's unlikely to make it all the way back to No. 99 where they select again with the second-to-final pick of the third round.

Angelo said size was a very real issue when it comes to Alabama free safety Rashad Johnson.

"We have a player profile at each position and that comes into play strongly, particularly at the safety position," Angelo said. "It's not just Bear-related, it's collectively around the league the durability has become a real concern there. With size, durability is a part of that."

The Bears have sent their free safeties through a revolving door in the Lovie Smith era and Angelo's words makes you wonder if the Bears would work Martin at cornerback most.

"It doesn't matter to me where I play,'' Martin said. ``My intention is to come in, earn a job and be able to contribute quickly. That is a goal I have for myself.''

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Why would we use our first pick on a CB? We have gaping holes at FS and WR...and bigger needs at DT and DE...but you are suggesting we use our only pick in the first 2 rounds on a CB? And to leave him at CB?

The only way drafting him makes sense is if we put him at FS or if we draft him and move Charles Tillman to FS.

If not, we do not have the luxury of drafting a 5th CB with our top pick.

If the Bears really feel that the best player available at #49 is a CB, then pick him up. Of course as J SMooth alluded to, that would mean one of two things. And personally, I would love to see Charles Tillman at FS.

Smooth, Mike, there is one other option to drafting a CB. Move Graham to FS. Lovie won't Tillman at least not this year. This kills two birds with one stone. That is of course, unless they think Bullocks can start. It's not like they have ever signed a player who sucked and were convinced he could start. Lloyd, Miller, St. Clair, Garza, Booker, Kennedy, you know I can keep going. Martin is still considered a third round pick so would he be the best value in round 2? Delmas may be there are you guys saying you would rather have Martin over Delmas or Johnson? Seems like a reach to me. Martin does fit as a Tampa 2 corner though, which are usually tweeners between CB/FS, or corners who can play the run and don't need to be in coverage for long. But how is he or any of the secondary going to do if the Bears don't bring the heat.

Mike we both know what Harris is going to be like this year, thats not going to help anyone in the secondary.

I personally would love to see Peanut at FS as well..but the coaching staff appears unwilling to make the if we did in deed draft a CB and then left him and Tillman at CB, I would be mad...and feel like we should have went elsewhere with the pick

Maybe someone will explain to me how we spend at least 2 or 3 picks EVERY DRAFT on DB's, yet we still are talking about drafting a DB with our highest pick of the draft? Didn't we give Tillman and Vasher huge contracts to do this job? Am I the only one who thinks that reason we have so many holes elsewhere is because we keep drafting an excess of DB's and then cutting or trading them because we can't keep 12 on the roster (yet)???


You are right about making a move with either Graham or Peanut to FS (either would be a great move) but don't you think that Graham is on the upswing at corner and could be great in the future where Peanut is maybe a step slower and would be a stud at free safety now for 3-5 years?

I could see the Bears drafting this kid at CB if either Bear player were moved to Free safety.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 21, 2009 8:44 PM.

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