2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Illinois DB Jartavius Martin

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I will be profiling Illinois DB Jartavius Martin.

#21 Jartavius Martin/DB Illinois – 5110, 194 (Senior)

Senior Bowl/Combine/Pro Day


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Jartavius Martin 5’11, 194 9 5/8 31 1/8 N/A
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.46 1.47 N/A N/A
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
11’0″ 44 15

The Good

— Has shown nice range when working as a post safety, can easily cover from hashes to sideline
— Plays with nice depth as a post safety, works to play everything top down
— Possesses great hit power when driving routes from depth
— Extremely physical and effective open-field tackler, punishes receivers to eliminate YAC opportunities post catch
— Does a nice job of staying square and disrupting receivers at the top of their routes when playing catch man from the slot
— Does a nice job stopping explosive runs before reaching the third level when coming down from his post safety spot
— Has a nice feel for undercutting routes in man coverage
— Solid hip mobility, which allows him to flip and transition efficiently when working in his crossover run from zone coverage assignments
— Works effectively out of invert coverages from the slot position, which would help him fit into Pittsburgh’s sub-package plans
— Does well to lean on receivers downfield and squeeze them into the sideline, mitigating their size advantages
— More than willing to fold off the edge and get involved as an extra defender in the run game, should be an additive sub package run defender at the next level
— Has shown solid timing and anticipation when blitzing off the edge

The Bad

— Tends to open hips prematurely in off-coverage, leaving him susceptible to rounding his breaks at times, needs to work this wasted movement out of his game
— Tends to overplay his leverage in man-coverage assignments, giving receivers room to work away from where he is protecting
—Needs to become more consistent in high pointing the football, has a tendency to wait for the football rather than attacking it. USE THAT 44 inch VERT!!!!
— Can struggle to fight through physicality from larger-framed players, allowing tight ends and plus-size receivers to create separation at the top of their routes


— 222 tackles 10 TFLs 1 sack 4 FFs 2 FRs 7 INTs 30 PDs
— 2022: 64 tackles 3 TFLs 1 sack 2 FFs 3 INTs 14 PDs
— Goes by nickname “Quan”
— Played safety, slot corner, and boundary corner at Illinois
— Attended the Reese’s Senior Bowl
— 2022 All-Big Ten Second Team
— Was named Bednarik Award Player of the Week after a seven-tackle, three pass-breakup performance against Wyoming this past season; was also named PFF national player of the week for his efforts

Tape Breakdown

A decade ago, scouts would look at a position-less prospect, like Illinois defensive back Jartavius “Quan” Martin, and find themselves struggling to slot him into a role at the next level. The talented defensive back primarily aligned as a post safety on early downs before rolling down to the Nickel spot in sub-packages, but also worked both as a boundary corner and dime-backer in his collegiate career. In the modern sense, versatile defensive backs are no longer pigeon-holed into a position, but rather embraced for their ability to wear multiple hats, as shown through the usage of Tyrann Mathieu, Jevon Holland, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, among others.

Working in a talented secondary, featuring top draft talent including Devon Witherspoon, Sydney Brown, and current Detroit Lions standout Kerby Joseph, Quan Martin was the glue that held together an elite unit. Similar to Cam Sutton’s impact in Pittsburgh, Martin’s ability to align in the slot, while effectively executing complicated post-snap rotations allowed the Illinois defense to deploy plenty of inverted coverage schemes to confuse quarterbacks. Possessing a skillset few players can match, Martin can effectively insert off the edge and factor into run fits, range hash to sideline as a post safety, and provide lockdown man coverage on slot receivers and tight ends.

Working as a post safety, Quan Martin has shown great range, pedaling to gain depth where he can keep routes in front of him, play top down, and punish receivers at the catch point, making them pay for catching the ball over the middle of the field. Operating as the post safety in a Cover 1 scheme, Martin patiently surveys the quarterback, opening into a crossover run to flow with the play action, and driving downhill to deliver a physical hit at the catch point. While the receiver hangs onto the football on this rep, Martin’s ability to provide a legitimate physical presence in the post, despite lacking prototype size, should allow him to function in single-high sets at the next level.

Martin has an extremely natural feel when working in zone coverage, able to sense route concepts as they develop and put himself in position to bait quarterbacks into errant passes. Once again working as a post safety, Martin bluffs a break downhill to bait the quarterback into lofting a pass behind his head. However, before the quarterback has even fully squared his body and pulled the pin, Martin is already sinking toward the back of the end zone, putting himself in position to high point the football for an impressive takeaway.

On passing downs, Martin played most of his snaps in the slot, where his ability to provide effective man coverage from off, catch, and press alignments gave the Illinois defense plenty of flexibility to adjust to motion. Here, aligned in catch man coverage over the slot receiver, Martin does a nice job staying square at the snap, triggering downhill as the receiver declares inside on the slant, closing to the upfield shoulder and arriving with physicality to punch the pocket and pry the football loose for the pass breakup.

One of the toughest assignments to execute as a defensive back is playing press man coverage in the slot, where receivers have a two-way go. Here, Martin aligns in press coverage in the slot, staying square in his inch technique and forcing the receiver to take a wide release, flipping his hips and closing to the back hip, turning to locate the football, and making a nice hands catch to secure the interception.

An effective and versatile defender in coverage, what truly solidifies Martin as a solid slot prospect at the next level is his ability to defend the run at a high level both as a post safety and as a slot defender. Here, Illinois aligns three over two to Wisconsin’s tight stack formation, with Martin blitzing from depth at the snap.

Post snap, Martin does a nice job of disrupting the timing of the receiver’s release, finding a gap in the protection, getting his hands up to take away a throwing window, and closing to deliver a physical stick to drop the quarterback for a sack. Relentless in his pursuit of the football, Quan Martin simply finds ways to impact the game in a number of ways that can be matched by few defensive backs in this year’s class.

Whether working as a designed blitzer or folding inside to involve himself in the run game, Martin is consistently able to close down lanes for backs to bounce runs to the edge, simplifying run fits for his teammates. Here, Martin once again inserts off the edge, working as a blitzer in a Cover 3 fire-zone scheme, beating the crack block with speed and knifing off the edge to meet the back well behind the line of scrimmage. Despite lacking size, Martin does a nice job of using his superior agility to evade blockers in the box and knife into the backfield consistently.

Despite posting an impressive 44-inch vertical at the combine, the best figure in this year’s class at any position, Martin fails to consistently high point the football at the catch point, allowing receivers to elevate over him for contested catches. Here, playing as a deep ⅓ zone defender in a Cover 3 scheme, Martin effectively splits vertical releases of the #1 and #2 receivers, weaving back toward the sideline and putting himself in position for the interception.

Rather than attacking the ball at its highest point, Martin waits and remains stationary, allowing Jahan Dotson to elevate for the contested catch in traffic. In general, Martin struggles to contest the catch point against larger-framed receivers due to his tendency to stay grounded with the ball in the air.

Similarly, due to his smaller frame, Martin struggles to combat physicality at the top of routes when defending tight ends and larger-framed receivers. Here, working in man coverage against an in-line tight end, Martin does a nice job of establishing contact in the release phase; a push off creates noticeable separation at the top of the route. The lack of play strength to handle contact from more physically imposing targets could limit the matchups he will be able to handle in man coverage at the next level.


I came away extremely impressed with Jartavius “Quan” Martin’s college tape and strongly believe that his versatility, physicality, and playmaking ability will elevate any team’s secondary, potentially as early as his rookie season. His college tape was similar to that of Jevon Holland, whom I evaluated coming out of Oregon two draft seasons ago. Holland has produced in his first two seasons with the Dolphins, with four sacks, four interceptions, and 17 passes defended.

In his rookie season, a team would be smart to work Martin into their sub-package plans, allowing him to work as a Nickel and dime-backer, allowing him to find his footing and make an impact both as a blitzer and in man coverage. With his background as a post safety, Martin is also more than capable of executing any post snap coverage assignment after him, equally comfortable playing in the post, flat, or hook/curl zone. Likewise, Martin’s relentless pursuit of the football and physical demeanor should make him an impact player on special teams early in his career.

Sometimes, evaluators overcomplicate scouting a player like Quan Martin, attempting to put a square peg into a round hole, so to speak. Whether he has a defined position entering the NFL or not, one thing is undeniable: the tape suggests that the versatile defensive back is an impact player, regardless of where he lines up on a snap-to-snap basis.

Projection: Late Day Two/Early Day Three

Depot Draft Grade: 8.5-Future Quality Starter (2nd Round)

Games Watched: at Wisconsin (2022), vs Illinois (2022), vs Wyoming (2022), vs Chattanooga (2022), at Penn State (2021), vs Nebraska (2021), vs UTSA (2021), at Virginia (2021)

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