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UNC DE Kareem Martin knows sack production must increase

Mark Dolejs / USA TODAY Sports
North Carolina DE Kareem Martin is looking to improve his sack production as a senior.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina senior Kareem Martin is one of the most athletic defensive ends in the nation and might be the most athletic in the ACC.

Martin tied for second in the league last season with 15.5 tackles for loss. He was tied with Florida State DE Bjoern Werner, who was a first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in April. But while Werner led the ACC with 13 sacks, Martin was tied for just 20th in the league, with four. Even now, he is bothered by that.

Martin said he has watched a lot of 2012 film and "I left about nine sacks on the field." He said he thinks this season will be different.

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"Ten is a very attainable number," he said Sunday at the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff. Martin has eight career sacks.

Martin (6-6, 265) has been clocked at 4.73 seconds in the 40, which obviously is really moving for a guy who weighs in the 260s. Defensive ends that quick generally have good sack numbers, and Martin said he thinks he knows why he hasn't.

He said he spent a lot of time in the offseason working on his "get-off" at the snap. "A small piece of a second can make a difference," said Martin, who has watched a lot of tape of NFL defensive ends and some current college ends.

One college end that everyone knows about is South Carolina junior Jadeveon Clowney. As it happens, UNC opens the season at South Carolina on Aug. 29 in a nationally televised game.

It was brought up Sunday that there will be numerous scouts in attendance to see Clowney, and Martin was asked if he had thought about potentially making an impression on all those scouts. He smiled, then said, "Oh, yeah, of course."

Martin already is on the radar of scouts and is seen as a potential first- or second-day selection, even without a high sack total.

"Ideally, you'd like to see a lot of sack production from defensive end prospects, but last year proved it's not essential to securing a high first-round selection," NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "Those two players [Dion Jordan and Ziggy Ansah] didn't have big sack totals, but they had the athleticism and length to project as successful NFL pass rushers."

Martin has high hopes for his sack total and his draft stock, pointing out that players who were projected to go early in the draft have been known to fall and vice versa.

"I don't see why I can't be the first defensive end taken," he said.

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