Prior to 2021, Zack Martin’s name had never dipped below #75 on the NFL’s yearly top 100 players compilation. Voted upon by players, the list provides a realistic record of the best playmakers league-wide, judged based upon the experiences of those whom know best.
And Zack Martin (along with two other notable Cowboys O-linemen) has consistently been a fixture in the countdown in the past decade. The six-time Pro Bowler peaked in ranking heading into the 2020 season, registering the 55th spot just behind then-Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs.
Expectations were soaring high after another stellar campaign in 2019-20, and Martin began the year looking every bit the part of the consummate All-Pro who had helped anchor one of the best protective platoons in football for years. After Tyron Smith was shelved with a neck ailment in October, Martin’s invaluable importance multiplied tenfold as he assured the role of heart, soul and stronghold of Dallas’ front. He even recorded his first game at right tackle for the depleted group.
But, in what was hapless 2020 fashion, Martin too succumbed to injury in early December: a calf strain that forced him to remain sidelined for the season’s remainder.
Martin is an aging. yet still hugely impactful presence, who has years of viable play left if his largely clean bill of health continues. And despite being held dormant for the latter half of 2020, his gridiron peers still view him as one of the elite blocking talents in the NFL.
Martin secured the 85th spot in this year’s top 100, which is a tremendous nod of respect from opponents who are lauding him with hefty expectations.
“We’re talking about somebody who demolished people on Sundays. Zack’s that guy,” Pittsburgh Steelers guard Trai Turner said.
Turner’s teammate Cameron Heyward can speak to that firsthand.
“He’s very sound and technical in his work. He’s able to pass off blocks, he’s able to be a good run blocker. When you have a combination like he has that’s able to be a guard, center, tackle if they needed it. He’s pretty special.”