Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes has been on the phone during the 2023 NFL Draft, seemingly looking for the best possible trade opportunities possible. On Day 2 of the NFL draft, Holmes traded down twice and traded up twice, with his biggest swing coming at the end of the third round.
“We probably started making calls kind of in the 70s (and with) teams kind of a little bit lower, 10 picks away and all that just to see if they were even interested because it would be a little bit of a drop back to go back to 122,” Holmes explained.
Eventually, Holmes made a deal with the Cardinals for pick No. 96—giving up picks No. 122, 139, and 168—and selected defensive tackle Brodric Martin out of Western Kentucky.
According to Holmes, Martin was an “under the radar” prospect that caught their eye at the East-West Shrine All-Star game, identified by Lions’ area scout Steve Neal. Once the Lions started digging in on his game film they were “really excited about his upside” and how he stepped up against higher levels of competition—specifically Auburn—, eventually bringing him in for a top-30 visit.
At 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, with 35-inch arm length (the longest of any interior defensive linemen in this draft class), Martin has an impressive frame for an interior player. His testing numbers are awfully low (2.15 RAS) but Holmes insisted “he moves a lot better on film” than his numbers might indicate.
“It’s hard to find big, athletic, big guys like that,” Holmes continues. “He just has, like we said, a lot of meat on the bones. He’s got a lot of upside. He’s a big man, he’s athletic, he plays hard, he chases to the ball. I don’t think I’ve seen many 330, 340-pound guys run to the ball like he does.”
Martin's movement skills are improving as his confidence grows, but his best trait, and likely the one that matters the most to the Lions, is his run-stopping ability. Martin is a space-eater in the middle of the defensive line, capable of taking on double teams—which he does more often than not—and anchoring to his spot.
In a recent interview with Draft Network’s Justin Melo, Martin talked about his approach to run defense:
“When a team wants to run the football against you, I find that to be disrespectful,” Martin explained. “They think they can just run the ball down our throats? They think they can do whatever they want? That’s disrespectful. I take it personally... It allows me to play with a chip on my shoulder. When you stop the run, you’re making the offense one-dimensional... As a defense, you can’t allow yourself to get physically manhandled. We have to dominate the offensive line. You do that by stopping the run. You have to make the offense consider their other options.”
That’s a Dan Campbell answer.
While most of Martin’s success has come inside, lining up over the center or in the A-gap (in between the center and guard), Martin believes he has the positional range to expand beyond nose tackle duties.
“Well, my favorite spot is just anywhere over the center,” Martin told the Lions media following his selection. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one, zero, anywhere over the center is where I like to be. It’s where I’ve done the most, it’s what I like, and where I’ve done the most. I’ve played three-tech, I’ve played 4i, just anywhere. I’m a defensive lineman, not just a nose guard. I’m a defensive tackle, I’m a defensive lineman. I’ve been everywhere.”
While Martin could grow into a player capable of working with a larger positional range, he’s still a raw player and will need some time to develop in the NFL. Look for the Lions to keep him at the 0/1-technique (nose tackle) position early in his career, competing with Benito Jones for backup snaps behind starters Alim McNeill and Isaiah Buggs.