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Pro Illini: Illinois players in the NFL Pt. 3



Jartavius Martin
Oct 15, 2022; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Jartavius Martin (21) intercepts the ball intended for Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Michael Brown-Stephens (22) during the second half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Pro Illini series is all about Illini athletes that have made it to the professional ranks. Because football season is upon us, Pro Illini will initially focus on Illini football. The Fighting Illini currently have 29 players in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, and Washington Commanders have three Illini players on their rosters. The Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and New York Jets have two.

The first series will take a look at NFL rookies. This second article features second-round pick Jartavius Martin

Martin’s versatility:

It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle when you have a secondary room as loaded as Illinois had in 2022. But safety Jartavious Martin made sure that did not happen to him. The Florida native made himself valuable because of his versatility. Martin played corner and safety during his Illini career. He showed the ability to cover the slot, play the deep half or third, and come down in the box and play the run.

Martin had a monster of a 2022 season. He was second on the team in tackles and tied for third in interceptions. Martin defended the second-most passes behind Devon Witherspoon. Those numbers led to an All-Big Ten second-team selection.

How Jartavius Martin fits with the Commanders.

Martin would be a tweener if he were drafted five years ago. He’d be too small to play safety (5-foot-11 and 194 pounds) and a step slow to be a starting corner–Martin ran a 4.46. However, today’s NFL marches closer to being “positionless” because of how versatile offensive players have become (think Debo Samuel). Consequently, Martin can play from the box to the defense’s back end. As a result, Jack Del Rio’s imagination is Martin’s only limitation.

Look for Martin to play all over the field early and often in Washington.


Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.