Cowboys' Zack Martin is NFL's best offensive guard since Larry Allen

With retirement looming around offensive guard Zack Martin, let's take a look at his career in the NFL.
October 8, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin (70) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
October 8, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin (70) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a rough ride being a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. Many fans never lived to see the glory of the 1990's, and instead have sat and watched as the Cowboys struggled to find success in the playoffs under Jason Garrett and Mike McCarthy. What's made it worthwhile, though, is having Hall of Fame players like Zack Martin on the team.

After an incredible ten years, all with the Cowboys, right guard Zack Martin was questioned by the Dallas Morning News whether he would be retiring at the end of the 2024 season. His response was not the most encouraging thing to hear.

"Im not saying 100 percent, but I think it is definitely in the realm of possibilities," Martin said of his future.

This should not be surprising considering Martin is not under contract next year and will turn 34 years old in November. With Martin's career now put on a year-to-year basis, let's look at his tenure and how he stacks up against other offensive linemen and guards in the NFL.

The 16th overall pick in the 2014 draft was nearly quarterback Johnny Manziel. Instead, Stephen Jones convinced owner Jerry Jones to stick with the Notre Dame tackle. It's safe to say that was a franchise-altering decision.

With two then-proven offensive linemen in Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Martin's selection marked the official re-emergence of three offensive linemen dominating the opposition. He began at right guard and was just as good as he was at left tackle with Notre Dame.

Starting on the offensive line as a rookie is a tough task. Being named a First-Team All-Pro is an even crazier task. Combine the two, and you have the start to a Hall of Fame career.

Martin would become a seven-time First-Team All-Pro, two-time Second-Team All-Pro, and nine-time Pro Bowler. The only season Martin did not claim an All-Pro or Pro Bowl nod was his 2020 season when he battled a concussion and a calf injury.

A highly productive lineman paves the way for running backs and protects quarterbacks. While Martin has worn the star for Dallas, running backs have two First-Team All-Pro and three Pro Bowl seasons. Quarterbacks Tony Romo and Dak Prescott have combined for four Pro Bowl seasons.

Only two offensive linemen have more First-Team All-Pro nods than Zack Martin: Jim Otto and Anthony Munoz. It is an especially exclusive club and one that should see Martin honored with a bust in Canton, Ohio.

Only a couple of days ago, Larry Allen, arguably the most dominant offensive lineman in NFL history, passed away at 52 years old. He is the representation of a perfect offensive lineman for flexibility, power, and technique. Martin deserves to be held in similar regard, despite having a different style of play.

Allen won through power, obliterating anyone in his path to forge running lanes for Emmitt Smith and keep Troy Aikman's pocket clean. Martin uses technique to keep the rushers in front at all times and uses leverage with power to push defensive linemen aside, and take linebackers for a joyride.

Both were consistent year after year and heavily relied upon by the Cowboys for their success. That led them to being named to All-Decade Teams. Allen for the 1990s and 2000s and Martin for the 2010s.

Since Larry Allen's retirement after the 2007 season, Martin is the best guard to grace the NFL. No guard has consistently played like the best in the world except for Martin. Because of that, he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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