What Can Auburn Fans Expect from Asa Martin: A Scouting Report
With Kerryon Johnson and Kam Pettway lost to the NFL Draft, Auburn shored up its running back ranks when Asa Martin became one of the Tigers’ early signers. The four-star recruit finished a fantastic high school career that included a stop at IMG Academy before coming home to Austin High in Decatur, Alabama.
The Black Bears had an absolutely great season before falling to Pinson Valley in the playoffs. That team was led by Bo Nix, son of Auburn great Pat Nix. Asa was phenomenal in the Pinson Valley game, scoring three touchdowns while running for 261 yards and passing for 40 yards. In the end, Pinson Valley needed a two-point conversion in overtime to win.
Martin ended the season with 198 carries for 2,228 yards and 35 touchdowns. That’s 11 yards per play and a touchdown every 5.7 carries. He added 20 catches for 399 yards and two more TD’s and threw two TD passes in leading the Black Bears to the Class 6A semifinals.
He is the second best player in Alabama, the 48th best player in the nation and the fourth best back in America. Martin will join Kerryon Johnson as being ranked as the fourth-best back in America to come to Auburn. Only Mike Dyer and Roc Thomas were ranked higher, and both of them were the second-best back coming out of high school.
Martin is listed as somewhere between 6 ‘ 0″ and 6’ 2″ and between 190 to 210 pounds. His metrics aren’t going to blow anyone away as he has a 4.5 40-yard dash time, 31 inch vertical, and a 4.32 shuttle run.
What’s on the tape?
We will take a look at his senior year highlights on Hudl.com after the jump.
First, the good things I’ve noticed. Asa plays with emotion. There are many big-name players that don’t celebrate touchdowns because they’ve “been there before.” Asa is excited every time he crosses the goal line, despite logging over forty touchdowns his last year. He has an edge to him, which is something a running back needs. This can be seen as he stands over opponents after finishing runs.
While I am not sold on his physicality at the line of scrimmage (more on this later), he doesn’t believe in going down and delivers vicious stiff arms. I noticed that the players on the receiving end are frequently smaller players, so it remains to be seen if he can translate this attitude to the bigger stage. That being said, he has very good physicality on special teams and defense.
Martin has very good vision. Many highlights show him seeing a crease that doesn’t seem to exist, then exploiting it for huge gains. He sees cut-back lanes extremely well.
These traits are reminiscent of Le’ Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bell shows extreme patience at the line of scrimmage before exploding upfield into the running lane or finding a cutback lane when the defense over pursues. Like Bell, Martin has an upright running style. The difference is that Bell is a verified 6′ 1″ 225-pound back and a transcendent talent and is the best receiving back in the NFL with almost zero ball-security issues.
Martin did a fair amount of damage in the passing game, both receiving and catching, but don’t expect that production at the next level. He averaged nearly 20 yards per catch, displaying good hands but questionable receiving skills, specifically route running and attacking the ball. This would be a major difference between not only Le’Veon Bell but the man he may replace, Kerryon Johnson.
While Martin could line up outside, he wouldn’t be a big time mismatch on a linebacker as opposed to Kerryon Johnson, who can legitimately play receiver at the next level. In terms of passing, the lefty doesn’t offer much. Finally, while he has the speed and vision to be a special teams player, he isn’t much on judging kicks, however, it might be possible for him to return kick-offs. He also has ball security issues, which can and will be addressed if he wants to see the field.
One point to note from Asa’s highlight film is that he is never see him hit at or before the line of scrimmage. That comes from the execution of his offensive line, which played a major role in his success. At no point in his senior highlights does he have to take on a defender or make a man miss before or at the line of scrimmage. Although he has the vision to find holes, they have been there for him, which is a testament to his line and its coaching.
Martin is a long-striding runner in the open field, similar to a receiver. His stride is a little different because he leads with his bottom half, not his upper body over his legs. I like that he doesn’t make too many cuts, wanting to take on contact at full speed rather than trying to cut back or juke and lose speed. He makes defenders make the play individually, and a touchdown will come down to one player, not multiple players. I like that in a back.
In the end, Martin has the production, speed, and vision necessary to be a good back. His ability to make cutbacks is what makes him dangerous. There is no evidence on whether he can be a two-set back with a fullback and quarterback under center in goal line or short-yardage situations. However, I suspect that he won’t be that kind of player. He may be a great motion-, screen-, and read-option back where pad level and physicality aren’t an issue, and vision and cutback ability will be most important.