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Arizona Cardinals Hoping Rookie Kareem Martin Can Bolster Pass Rush

August 18th, 2014 at 7:04 AM
By Steve Smith

The Arizona Cardinals drafted defensive end Kareem Martin in the third round of this year's NFL Draft with an eye towards helping their pass rush.

The University of North Carolina product has a world of potential and should bolster Arizona's pass rush as the 2014 regular season moves along. Martin has three tackles in two preseason games so far but it should not be too long before he starts adding some sacks to his resume.

The talent is there. He just needs some seasoning.

All rookies do.

Let's take an updated look at his profile via

Strengths Has very long arms. Good eyes and recognition — senses screens, locates the ball and understands contain. Strong-handed to punch and extend. Good short-area burst. Uses his length to force his way into gaps. Flashes power potential. Nice closing speed. Wrap tackler. Football smart. Durable three-year starter. Solid personal and football character with leadership traits. Showed explosion at the combine, recording a 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump (best among defensive linemen) and a 35 1/2-inch vertical jump.

Weaknesses Needs to bulk up and get functionally stronger. Has tapered legs and is not stout at the point of attack — does not generate power through his lower half and is too easily displaced. Pad level fluctuates. Needs to improve as a hands fighter. Can do a better job protecting his legs. Average get-off — pops up off the snap and initial steps are unthreatening. Rush lacks variety. Does not accelerate off blocks or consistently bend the corner. Occasionally loafs on the back side. Tweener traits.

Bottom Line Big, narrow-framed, long-levered defensive lineman who shows big-time flashes of potential as a 4-3 left end, though he needs to fortify his base as a run defender and hone his technique as a pass rusher. Possesses very intriguing dimensions for a rush OLB role in a traditional, two-gapping, 3-4 alignment and showed he is athletic enough to handle it at his pro day.


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