INDIANAPOLIS -- As North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin goes through the rigors of the NFL Scouting Combine, he has looked to two Denver Broncos for hints of what's to come.
One seems obvious. The other -- not so much.
Martin played alongside a handful of future NFL Draft selections on the Tar Heels' defensive line, including St. Louis Ram Robert Quinn, New York Jet Quinton Coples and Denver Bronco
It was Williams with whom Martin formed the strongest bond -- the two were college roommates.
"I talk to him almost every day," Martin said Saturday from the podium. "I just listen to the things he told me – everything he’s told me has been true as far as the Combine and the Senior Bowl and those things. That has helped me go through this week stress-free because I know what to expect. I know what is going to happen tomorrow and this and that. A lot of guys don’t have that, so they’re stressing out. But I’m at ease."
Martin said he watched Williams throughout his rookie season with the Broncos, a campaign in which he started the final seven games of the season including both home playoff games and Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I knew once he got his opportunity he was going to show the reason why he was a first-round draft pick," Martin said. "When he finally got that opportunity he went in and didn’t look back. He got I think sacks in consecutive weeks and was a big part of that defensive line down the stretch.”
But that wasn't the only Broncos connection that came up during Martin's press conference.
Asked who was the toughest offensive tackle he matched up against in college, the defensive end didn't hesitate --
It was an opinion shared by South Florida defensive end Tevin Mims, who said that the current Broncos starter was such a problem because “he had great feet, a big body and can move real well. Real strong.”
Both Martin and Mims laughed when asked how much success they'd seen against Franklin when the offensive tackle was at the University of Miami.
"Not much," Martin said. "I was a younger player then. He was so polished as a veteran offensive lineman, I didn’t have an answer for him at the time.”
But that experience against a future NFL starter ultimately provided a confidence boost for both players. Martin, for one, earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2013 after accumulating 20 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries for the Tar Heels. He notched 1.5 more tackles for loss -- and a sack in the end zone for a safety -- in North Carolina's Belk Bowl win against Cincinnati.
"That was my freshman year," Martin said of his battle with Franklin. "He has been starting three or four years now on a Super Bowl team. That just shows me that I have the talent to be there. I’ve come a long way from my freshman year as a player and I definitely think I’m ready for this next level.”