Illini Football returned to relevance last fall, and with that, they are back with a presence this spring at the NFL Draft as well. Defensive back Jartavius Martin rocked it at the NFL Combine last month, and he’s gonna parlay that into a nice mid-round selection this weekend.
Martin set the Illini Combine record in the vertical jump, and he posted the 8th-best 40-yard dash time in Illinois’ history at the scouting event.
Martin’s vertical was the No. 1 score in this year’s Combine and it tied for fifth all-time in Combine history. In other words, he’s got mad hops.
His impressive leaping marks didn’t end there. He set an Illini record in the broad jump and tied for fourth at this year’s Combine. He also ran the third fastest 40-yard dash among safeties in this class.
NFL Network’s draftnik Daniel Jeremiah gave a NFL Draft stock report on Jartavius Martin.
“When you look at Jartavius Martin, I think he is going to be a day 1 starting nickel,” he said on media conference all.
“He is quick and fluid. He can change directions. He is a physical hitter. He shows you his toughness. I’m curious to see what the pure speed is.
That’s the only box left for him to check is the speed part, but I thought he was somebody that could come in and be a really good nickel right away.”
Martin teamed up with cornerback Devon Witherspoon, who will be a top ten overall pick tomorrow night to combine for 29 passes defended, the most in the nation among Power-5 teammates.
Jartavius Martin also had the top tackling grade in the Big Ten among cornerbacks and the No. 2 grade in the nation this past season.
It was all part of the Illini’s crazy good secondary as Illinois was 1st in the nation in interceptions (22), as well as
• 1st in the nation in passing efficiency defense (89.8)
• 1st in the nation in passing touchdowns allowed (8)
• 1st in the nation in yards per pass attempt (5.4)
It was definitely a balanced unit, with talent, depth and skill all around.
Illinois and Alabama are the only teams with two Bednarik semifinalists, which lists the top 20 defenders in the nation.
The strength of the Illini defense, and with that, obviously the Illini football team in general, was the secondary.
NFL Draft Stock Profiles
Devon Witherspoon Chase & Sydney Brown Jartavius Martin Peter Skoronski C.J. Stroud Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
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