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Last updated: Fri. May. 09, 2014 - 05:15 am EDT

Notre Dame's Martin headed to 'America's team'

Dallas Cowboys pass on Johnny Football for beefy lineman

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Dallas Cowboys fans were waiting to see if Johnny Football was coming their way. Instead, they got a Texas-sized player to protect the familiar current Cowboys quarterback.

Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin, who could play either tackle or guard spot, was selected by the Cowboys with the 16th pick in the first round. He was the first Notre Dame player picked, as well as the first player with state of Indiana ties.

"I'm just so excited, I can't wait to get down to Dallas and start competing for that great organization," Martin told

Rumors had the Cowboys taking Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, but afterward it was revealed they were more interested in trading the pick to a team that might want Manziel. That didn't materialize. Manziel went No. 22 to Cleveland.

So the Cowboys kept their pick and beefed up the offensive line.

Martin, 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds, was the ultimate ironman at Notre Dame, starting all 52 games he played, with 50 of those at left tackle. While his quarterbacks varied at Notre Dame, he'll be tasked with the responsibility of keeping 34-year-old Tony Romo upright as he heads into the final stretch of his career.

The primary criticism of Martin is that his wingspan is shorter than average, but he makes up for that with his quickness and agility. It's uncertain whether the Cowboys plan to use him as a tackle or guard.

“One of my biggest strengths in this process was my versatility with teams,” Martin told “Although I played tackle in college, I can play multiple positions at the next level, so I think that's definitely something that helped me out in this process.”

Martin is the highest drafted Notre Dame offensive lineman since the Seattle Seahawks took Andy Heck at No. 15 in 1989. He is the first Notre Dame offensive lineman selected in the first round since Jeff Faine was taken 21st by the Browns in 2003.

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