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Packers draft bio: Kamal Martin, inside linebacker, Minnesota

Tom Dombeck
Packers News
Minnesota linebacker Kamal Martin, drafted by Green Bay in the fifth round Saturday, will fight for a backup role at inside linebacker given Blake Martinez’s departure.

With the 175th overall selection in the 2020 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers chose Minnesota inside linebacker Kamal Martin in the fifth round.

PackersNews.com analysis

Kamal Martin is a versatile linebacker who originally committed to Eastern Michigan to play quarterback. Martin moved over to inside linebacker as a senior and figures to have immediate value on special teams.

Measurables

Height: 6-3

Weight: 240

Hand size: 10⅛ inches

Arms: 34 inches

Key stat

177

Career tackles

Stats/Awards

  • All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (2019)
  • Gary Tinsley Award (2019)
  • Missed five games in 2019 with injury
  • 66 tackles (36 solo)

Role expectation

Martin will fight for a backup role at inside linebacker given Blake Martinez's departure to the New York Giants. Former Cleveland Browns inside linebacker Christian Kirksey's addition should solidify the starting spot vacated by Martinez. With Martin's versatility he could also become part of the rotation outside as well.

The general manager said

In a conference call, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst spoke about the fifth-round pick:

On Martin's role and best position

"I think that's to be determined. I think what you liked about Kamal is he's big, long and fast. He's almost 6-3, 240 pounds. He's really long, 34 inch arms. I think he's going to compete at both positions and it's really how fast does he pick it up. But I think this guy has a lot of upside."

The scout said

In a conference call, Packers scout Brandian Ross spoke about the fifth-round pick:

"With Kamal, I think the first thing you notice is just toughness and versatility. He's a guy who plays SAM backer and then moved inside his senior year. I think he offers a lot of versatility, some toughness. He played through that knee injury at some point of the season late last year before he shut it down but I think his toughness and versatility standout the most."

On if Martin pegs as an inside or outside linebacker

"That will be up to the coaches at that point. I think he's a football player. He's smart, he's tough and he's going to make plays with the opportunity. How much he plays will be up to him and the coaches."

He said

Kamal Martin met the local media via conference call Saturday. Here are some highlights.

On the knee injury and if he's 100 percent right now:

"The knee is feeling really good. Just coming back and rehabbing, way ahead of where I'm supposed to be and I'm going to be completely fine, 100 percent fine. It's not going to be a big deal at all."

On what he considers his biggest strength:

"I would consider my biggest strength as, you know, being able to combine my athletic ability with, you know, how well I know the defensive side of the game. Just being able to use my length and my range and my speed. Tracking down ball carriers and being prepared when it comes to Sundays. I feel like that's where I succeed the most."

Nuggets

  • Majored in business & marketing education

Draftniks say

NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein: "Angular linebacker with decent straight-line twitch who takes too long to diagnose and flow, making him a viable block for climbing linemen. He plays upright and a little stiff in his scrapes and doesn't find his run fits as efficiently as he needs to. He can gather and wrap as a tackler, but will struggle to finish elusive backs in the open field and he's unimpressive as a passing-down participant. Martin's lack of early play recognition and elusive flow to ball might push him outside as a 4-3 SAM option."

Bleacher Reporter draft analyst Matt Miller: "Martin moved around quite a bit while playing for Minnesota. While positional flexibility can be seen as a positive for some prospects, it may have hindered Martin's development. He struggles to diagnose blocking schemes from an off-ball linebacker position and often throws his body into the mix haphazardly. He has excellent length on an NFL frame and will surely provide value early in his career. However, he'll have to improve his technical nuance at the position to become any sort of viable starter."

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