With his stock on a continuous rise since the end of his fifth season at Notre Dame, center Nick Martin became the second center chosen in the NFL draft Friday and 50th selection overall when he was tabbed by the Houston Texans with the 19th pick of the second round.
The 6-foot-4, 299-pound Indianapolis product – younger brother of 2014 first-rounder Zack – followed Alabama center Ryan Kelly off the board. The Indianapolis Colts made Kelly the 18th overall pick Thursday night. Martin came 32 picks later.
Martin is the first Irish center drafted since John Sullivan was a sixth-round draft choice by the Minnesota Vikings in 2008.
The last time Notre Dame had a center selected as high as Martin was in 2003 when Jeff Faine was the No. 21 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns.
Martin started the first 11 games of the 2013 season, and then each of the final 26 games in 2014-15, despite a thumb injury in ’14 that forced him to move from center to guard.
Martin offers quality versatility to the Texans as an interior offensive lineman at three positions, although he is expected to settle in at the center position.
The last time a Notre Dame player was chosen by the Texans – prior to Will Fuller Thursday night with the No. 21 overall selection – was in 2014 when they picked defensive tackle Louis Nix III in third round.