Before the draft in late April, the feeling among most draft analysts was Jonathan Martin rated as either a late-first-round pick or early-second-rounder, so the Dolphins naturally were glad to be able to get him with the 42nd overall pick.
No question, Martin was drafted with the idea that he would become a starter quickly, and why not? After all, Martin was a two-time all-conference tackle at Stanford, where he protected Andrew Luck's blind side.
But just how quickly Will Martin be able to contribute heavily to the Dolphins offense, more specifically will he be ready to challenge for a starting job right away?
Make no mistake, the right tackle position is there for the taking for Martin, but he has to show he's ready to handle the responsibility.
There's an adjustment involved for Martin, in going from the left side to the right side, and he certainly wasn't helped in the offseason by the fact he missed a lot of the spring practices because of the NFL rule preventing rookies from attending while classes at their school are still in session.
"We have to take into consideration Jonathan Martin — and I’m throwing out a figure here, I don’t know any specific numbers — has 3,400 snaps at left tackle in college, but he only has 197 at right tackle with the Miami Dolphins," Coach Joe Philbin said on the next-to-last day of offseason practices. "So there is an adjustment period that he is going through. Does he look as smooth at right tackle as he does at left tackle? No. Do I believe he can make the transition effectively? Yes.”
To help speed up Martin's learning curve, Philbin gave Martin more than his share of practice repetitions at practice.
Martin also had the benefit of spending a lot of the practice time he did have going up against Cameron Wake, who is easily the Dolphins' best pass rusher and among the best in the league.
“That’s great stuff," Philbin said. "You know, Coach Turner (offensive line coach Jim Turner) can sit in a meeting room and talk about how you pass-set and I can tell you to time up your punch and that it’s a 6-inch punch and act real smart, but until you get out there and do it, it’s a different animal going up against that type of athlete. It’s great experience for him.”
Because there are no pads involved in offseason practices, it's difficult and actually unfair to try to assess an offensive lineman's performance in the spring.
That said, Martin did arrive in South Florida with question marks about his overall strength, particularly after a reportedly disappointing pre-draft workout.
Now, the Dolphins' new offensive scheme calls more for mobility and technique than pure strength, but there nonetheless has to be something there in terms of power.
That might be Martin's biggest challenge in training camp, to show he's strong enough to handle the starting job as a rookie.
The Dolphins do have other options if they decides that Martin isn't ready to start right away, starting with third-year player Lydon Murtha, who was in line to challenge for a starting job last summer before going down with a foot injury.
The Dolphins also could use veteran free agent acquisition Artis Hicks, but he might wind up starting at right guard ahead of 2010 third-round pick John Jerry.
Right tackle shapes up as one of those interesting training camp battles.
Martin was drafted to start at right tackle for a long time, but it remains to be seen just how quickly he can get into the lineup.