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Interview: Browns offensive guard Wes Martin

Newest member of the O-Line strengthens the depth

The Cleveland Browns own arguably the best starting offensive line unit in the league. There is not only a veteran presence, but Pro Bowl and All-Pro status to back it all up.

Pro Football Focus has stated recently that they believe the offensive line for the Browns is an elite group. Their analysis of this room is as follows:

“It makes sense on the offensive line, especially as when healthy the unit has been one of the best in the league. The iron man Joel Bitonio at left guard managed to get better as his long career has gone on and when healthy Jack Conklin has been great at right tackle. Ethan Pocic has turned around his early career and Wyatt Teller is a mauler in the run game.”

That part about “especially as when healthy the unit has been.......” is usually where the wheels fall off with this group in the past. Anytime one of the starting five goes down for any amount of time with an injury the offense will sputter. And all five have missed games because of this.

So, GM Andrew Berry has a new strategy and has attempted to focus on the core group that will ultimately become the second-tier guys. These players represent a second line of attack at the ready in case of injury so hopefully the offense doesn’t lose a beat.

No longer can the club rely on just one veteran guy like Chris Hubbard to come in and play every position for whoever is hurt. Hubbard missed a ton of games due to multiple injuries himself. This means that Berry must have an assortment of valuable backups in play who are regarded as plug-and-play.

And one of those guys is newly-signed offensive guard Wes Martin.

Martin, age 27, isn’t one of these athletes inked to compete in training camp, receive a paycheck, gain film, get released, and then re-sign with another NFL team. Martin has NFL starting experience and is in camp to compete and own a roster spot. With the Browns. This year.

In college, Martin played in 50 games with 43 starts for Indiana University. In his junior and senior seasons, he was named Honorable Mention All-Big 10. He grew up in the village of West Milton, Ohio, and had a lot of accolades his senior year including being named the Southwestern Buckeye League Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Washington Redskins v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

In 2019, Martin (6’-3”, 315 pounds) was a fourth-round draft pick of the Washington Football Team and started four games during his rookie year. At the start of the 2020 season, he was named the starting left guard. In his two seasons in DC, he played in 25 games with 10 starts. He spent parts of 2021 and 2022 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Football Giants as well as with Washington.

He actually played for Browns O-Line coach Bill Callahan when he was a rookie with Washington as the interim head coach. In Martin’s career so far he has played 760 offensive snaps so the experience is there. He signed with Cleveland to be paid a base salary of $1,080,000 with a cap number of $940,000 so his paycheck is cap friendly.

Martin has been married to his wife Bailey for three years and the couple have two young sons. He knows that Cleveland has two Pro Bowl guards already in place.

But the depth chart may swing in his favor as Michael Dunn, Colby Gossett, Drew Forbes, and former rookie Dawson Deaton are the only ones penciled in as guard depth on the Browns’ roster behind starters Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio. Forbes, Dunn, and Gossett have all been released in the past and then re-signed, whereas Deaton spent his rookie season on IR and was drafted as a center.

Ever since Kevin Stefanski was installed as the head coach, and Berry was hired as GM, they have kept 10 offensive linemen each season. And they know that the sixth man off the offensive line bench is just as important as it is in basketball.

Dawgs By Nature caught up with Martin between workouts to find out a bit more about one of the newest roster members and discuss his role with the Browns.

DBN: You were named Southwestern Buckeye League Offensive Lineman of the Year plus was First Team All-Ohio at Milton-Union High School. At that time, did it ever enter your mind that one day you might have a chance of playing pro football?

Martin: I was hopeful like every other high school kid. Did I have a ton of confidence that maybe I would make it one day? Maybe, or maybe not. It takes a lot of time and effort to be able to play at the next level. But it’s what I always wanted to do and had a good senior season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 17 Indiana at Michigan

DBN: You had 43 starts at Indiana University in a tough conference. What do you attribute your durability to?

Martin: It’s a direct reflection of the time I have spent in the weight room. I’ve always been a guy who enjoys being in the weight room and take pride in the process. It’s serious to me. That has helped me build a shield against some common injuries. Some things are freak accidents that you can’t avoid, but I have been fortunate to dodge those. The small stuff I have been able to brush off.

DBN: You grew up in Ohio. Bengals or Browns? Fav players?

Martin: I definitely was a Bengals fan, but mostly I liked college football. I would be lying if I said I was a die-hard Browns fan, but really I didn’t watch a ton of pro ball growing up. I latched onto college football and considered myself more of a fan of that. For whatever reason when I was real little I liked West Virginia. When I was older we had a guy from my high school who went to Indiana, so most of our town began to watch Indiana football. I became a big fan which is what ultimately led me to go there eventually. As far as pro players, my first jersey was a Warren Sapp jersey. As a little kid, everyone wants to sack the quarterback.

Editor’s note: West Milton is just one hour and 15 minutes north of Cincinnati, so...yeh

DBN: The Browns are in need of quality guards as veteran swing guard/tackle Chris Hubbard was not re-signed. Do you see yourself in a good place in Cleveland?

Martin: Yeh, I see it as a good opportunity. It’s a really good room with a lot of really good guys. A good opportunity for me to come in and compete and put everything I got out there into it. I have been in the league long enough now to know that is all anybody can do. You have to do the best you can and you never know where the pieces might fall. I feel good I’m in a good place to give myself a shot.

DBN: A lot of camp guys have been on practice squads, but you have 11 NFL starts. That has to be an advantage for you as you compete in training camp.

Martin: Experience is hard to get in this league, especially game experience. Getting into a live game is different than practicing getting into a game. Preseason games are important, but once the season begins everything is taken up a notch or two. It’s definitely challenges and battles. I have experience doing all that.

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

DBN: You have played under other offensive line coaches in the league. Now that you have gone through mini-camp, what was your reunion with O-Line coach Bill Callahan like?

Martin: Of course, I had him in Washington so we are familiar with each other. He drafted me. It was good working with him again. He’s known as being the best offensive line coach in the league and back then he was awesome. He is still teaching.

DBN: Which do you feel is your strength: run blocking or protecting the passer?

Martin: I would say run blocking. No one would say that they like to prefer to sit back and pass protect.

DBN: This offensive line group is full of veterans, Pro Bowlers, and league All-Pros. What are you hoping to pick up from them or is it just cool being on one of the best offensive lines in the league?

Martin: I am hoping to learn as much as I can and pick up on things that these guys are doing more unique and different. There are some great guys here and I am looking forward to working with them. And learn from them.

DBN: If you had signed with any of the other 31 teams you would be coming to camp to compete for a starting position. With both guards for the Browns Pro Bowlers, does this alter your practice mindset?

Martin: It does not. If you are taking first-team or second-team reps or whatever you are doing, I can control only what I put out there. And how hard I play and show what I am capable of. I don’t lose any sleep over the rest of it. I try to do what I do best and let the rest take care of itself. I will give everything I have in training camp.

DBN: This time of year, what does your daily workout consist of, and what is your diet?

Martin: It changes from day to day. Obviously lifting, running, stretching, and working on mobility. With training camp about to start, I have to sprinkle a heavy dose of actual specific stuff to get the mechanics down. Right now it’s a little bit of everything. The main thing is to make sure I’m in shape and ready to play football. As far as eating, I try to keep a steady mix of meats, veggies, and fruits. All the nutritionists say to have a colorful plate. They like to see some greens in there also. You have to keep it balanced and give your body what it needs.

DBN: What was the one thing you picked up from mini-camp?

Martin: It’s more than one thing. It’s been years since I worked with Coach Callahan. His techniques and stuff have been altered quite a bit. I had to learn to pick up on some things and grow on. And coming to a new team I have to get familiar with the area and the new facilities.

DBN: How is it different working in front of a running quarterback like Deshaun Watson versus a pocket passer?

Martin: You have to be prepared for the late run obviously. You also have to block and be engaged a lot longer. Those one or two seconds can be the difference for a guy to break out of the pocket and give him a chance to take off downfield. You just have to think in your mind to stay with your guy a bit longer. A quarterback like that can do a lot for your offense.

DBN: What do you know now that you didn’t realize when you were first drafted?

Martin: There’s a list. Probably how challenging the NFL profession is. If you get in the position to get drafted you had a successful college career, so you’re feeling pretty good. Then you get drafted and it’s a whole new chapter you have to worry about. But every year you get more experienced and familiar with the challenge. It’s a really tough league. That’s why only so many guys get to do it. It’s such a blessing to be around and have a steady career.

DBN staff writer Thomas Moore contributed to this article.