The Carolina Panthers’ Jonathan Martin: When Is Enough…Enough?

How many chances do you get in the NFL before its realized that you’re just not any good?  Just like mediocre players in college can become superstars in the NFL, great prospects coming out of college can also disappoint.  It’s been said before and it’s been done before.  The NFL isn’t college and being a great athlete doesn’t make a great NFL player.  On top of having a superior skillset, you need to be smart, dedicated and hard-working.  In the NFL, the plays are faster, the players are bigger and the rules are not the same.

Perhaps you know of Jonathan Martin more from the locker room bullying scandal in Miami with Ritchie Incognito.  But before those headlines, Martin was highly touted college prospect.  But now, after all that has happened, he might be just another example of a prospect who was ultimately unsuccessful in the NFL.

Remember Aaron Maybin?  Don’t feel bad.  Nobody does.  So let me help:

  • Maybin was drafted in 2009 in the first round by the Buffalo Bills, where he had an unsuccessful 2 years and was released in August 2011.
  • Maybin played his 3rd year for the New York Jets, recording his first sack against Joe Flacco. Maybin was released in November 2012.
  • In January 2013, Maybin was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals, but he never made the 53 man roster.
  • In October 2013, after a failed NFL career, Maybin signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Maybin played only 1 game.
  • In 2014, Maybin announced his retirement after a failed CFL career (there IS something wrong with that).
Canadian Press Photo

Canadian Press Photo

Will Martin be the next Aaron Maybin?  Let’s take a look.

The First chance in the NFL…

Martin was considered as the No. 3 tackle prospect coming out of Stanford.  Unfortunately after 3 seasons in the NFL, Martin isn’t known for his athletic prowess, but synonymous with “bullygate.”

Drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2012 in the 2nd round, Jonathan Martin had a rocky start.  Martin, who successfully protected Andrew Luck’s blindside at Stanford, was placed at right tackle for the Miami Dolphins offensive line, with veteran Jake Long at left tackle.  After Long tore his bicep, Martin found himself on the right side of the Dolphins offensive line, or should I say the left side, as left tackle.

Martin’s dream for playing left tackle in the NFL, soon became a harsh reality.

Martin had less success at left tackle than at right.

In the 5 games Martin played left tackle, he allowed 15 hurries in 184 pass-blocking snaps (8.2%), compared to 32 in 404 (7.9%) at right tackle.

Erik Frenz Twitter

By the end of the Martin’s rookie season, no NFL tackle allowed more quarterback hurries than Martin’s 47.

Martin’s struggles during his rookie season were credited to being placed at right tackle.  But after 5 starts at left tackle, Martin graded out at 55 of 75 qualifying offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus’ 2013 grades. In run blocking, Martin was ranked 62nd.

In the 2013 season, Martin was placed at right tackle after the Dolphins acquired left tackle Bryant McKinnie from the Ravens during the off-season.

By October 2013, “bullygate” became the focus in the Miami Dolphins locker room.  The “ring leader” Richie Incognito was suspended (currently on the Buffalo Bills) and Martin would never suit-up in a Dolphin’s uniform again.  Martin sat out the remaining 2013 season, seeking treatment for depression.

AP Photo

AP Photo

A Second chance in the NFL…

In March 2014, Martin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a 7th round pick in the 2015 draft.

Reunited with former Stanford coach, Jim Harbaugh, there was high expectations for his performance. Unfortunately, Martin struggled in his nine starts with the 49ers in place of injured right tackle Anthony Davis, allowing the second-most sacks (6) and third-most quarterback pressures (21) on the team.

A Third chance in the NFL…

With Jim Harbaugh now coaching the Michigan Wolverines, Martin, 25, has been released from the 49ers and picked off waivers by the Carolina Panthers, who also signed left tackle Micheal Oher during the off season.

With Mike Remmers playing right tackle, there doesn’t seem to be a place for Martin.  He’ll need to work hard to compete for a position during training camp.

Martin is scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.04 million.  And there’s certainly room for skepticism regarding whether Martin will be worth that amount.  Keep an eye on No. 71, Jonathan Martin, on the offensive line:

Only time will tell whether Jonathan Martin will play for another season in the NFL.  I’m certain he’ll work hard during training camp to secure a spot on the 53 man roster, but lets face it…with the Panthers predicted to draft an offensive tackle in the 1st round and with draft potentials like La’el Collins and T.J Clemmings, Martin is unlikely to start all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers.

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u