Eric Martin is arguably the best receiver in Saints history. The former LSU product was a star with the Saints, noted mostly for his incredible hands and physical toughness. You can put him up there with Marques Colston and Joe Horn as firmly in the top three receivers in franchise history. Martin is actually still the Saints' leader in catches (tied with Colston, and 1 more reception will vault Colston alone into first) and yards (Colston needs ~450yds this season to pass him). The former 7th round pick and one time Pro Bowler came to the Saints with a decorated career at LSU and a lot of local recognition. Yet still, as a 7th rounder, it was no given he'd succeed. Instead, he gave the Saints 9 years of rock solid and consistently steady performance. So of course, when the Saints signed "Eric Martin" as an undrafted rookie free agent this offseason, I couldn't help but smile. I thought – what a great name to join with the Saints. And how fitting is it that he came to the Saints unceremoniously, and he's getting the most talk of all the non drafted rookies coming into camp?
The success of non drafted guys in the Sean Payton era is well documented. Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Jonathan Casillas, Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore, Brian de la Puente, Chris Ivory, Isa Abdul-Quddus… the list goes on and on. Every year, you know there's one or two guys in the Saints' undrafted rookie class that will find a way to impress and make the team. And frankly, based on his name alone I had this weird "stars aligning" theory that Eric Martin could be the guy. The outside linebacker out of Nebraska was projected as possibly a 6th or 7th rounder, and he got a favorable write up on CBS sports. And of course, Mike Triplett of NOLA.com mentioned him in the last 24 hours and a riser in camp.
It seems as though at least for the time being, Martin is practicing with the 2's at OLB because he's stood out as an impressive performer. That's ahead of a guy they drafted in Rufus Johnson, ahead of a guy who everyone has said was the best undrafted rookie free agent this year in Chase Thomas, and ahead of a veteran like Will Herring. I'm not ready to say I'm counting on him to deliver a rock solid 9 year career, with one Pro Bowl trip, and in the conversation as one of the best Saints linebackers of all time… but his name IS Eric Martin. And based on what I remember from the former, you don't want to mess with that guy.
Seriously, I'd settle for this guy making the 53 man roster and having an impact. After all, if the question "what's in a name" applies even at all, this guy has really good company. Putting all that aside, though, he's the undrafted rookie that's separated himself from the pack so far. Granted, it's still very early.