Commanders take DB Martin, C Stromberg on day 2 of NFL draft

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Ron Rivera tried to call Ricky Stromberg on Friday night to let him know the Washington Commanders were taking him in the third round of the NFL draft.

A technology mishap got in the way.

After a confusing back and forth, Rivera asked, “Stromberg please?” The voice on the other end responded, “Oh, you got the wrong number.”

General manager Martin Mayhew called Stromberg’s agent and then his father to deliver the news to the Arkansas center. After finally getting ahold of him and drafting Illinois defensive back Quan Martin in the second round and taking Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes in the first, the Commanders feel they filled two big areas of need early in the draft.

“This is how the draft has fallen for us,” Rivera said. “These are the things that we feel we needed going forward as a football team.”

Of course it wasn’t without some drama. Stromberg won the award for the best blocking lineman in the SEC last season, but a new phone not receiving calls correctly delayed him finding out he was Washington’s choice at No. 97.

“I was expecting a call on my phone. It was on (my dad’s) phone,” Stromberg said. “He came around the corner and said, ‘It’s Washington.’ It was just crazy.”

Crazier, maybe, that the Commanders took defensive backs with each of their first two picks, but they were targeting Forbes and Martin all along.

“I’m excited to be able to play with him,” Martin said of Forbes. “He’s a great ball hawk, takes the balls away and gets the defense in the end zone.”

Martin, whose given name is Jartavius but prefers to go by Quan, was a five-year starter with the Illini and could split his time between safety and nickel back early on in the NFL. He made 64 tackles, forced two fumbles and had three interceptions during his final college season.

His versatility was one of the reasons the Commanders had interest in Martin.

“Football just always came natural to me,” Martin said from a draft party gathering at a house in central Florida. “Being able to play any position on the back end at any given moment in the game just shows my understanding of the game and my football IQ.”

Like Martin, Stromberg visited Washington’s practice facility this spring and was targeted by the front office. The 6-foot-3, 306-pounder taken 97th gives the Commanders young depth as part of their offensive line overhaul in the name of protecting quarterbacks Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett.

“He’s very versatile,” Mayhew said of Stromberg, who can also play either guard position. “The kid is vert smart. I don’t think he’s going to have a hard time catching up to NFL football.”

The Commanders did not have their own third-round pick as a result of the trade 13 months ago with Indianapolis for Carson Wentz, who went 2-5 as the starting quarterback and was released after one season. Having Howell and Brissett in the fold allowed the long-QB-starved organization to not look hard at the position in the first three rounds of the draft.

Washington has five more picks in rounds 4-7 Saturday and could still look to add an offensive tackle, edge rusher and linebacker and may also be in the market for another running back.

“We decided we’re not going to tell you who we’re going to look at,” Rivera said. “But we’re taking into consideration all the positions.”


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