GREEN BAY – The first wave of cheers came after the Packers called Blake Martinez last Saturday, informing the Stanford linebacker of his fourth-round selection in the NFL Draft.
Surrounded by family and close friends, Martinez quickly threw on the Packers hat and T-shirt that his father, Marc, had pre-purchased in case Green Bay had drafted his son.
As great as the moment was, the celebration grew even louder a few hours later when the Packers selected Martinez’s Cardinal teammate, offensive lineman Kyle Murphy, in the sixth round.
“When that happened, we were going crazy at my house,” Martinez said. “It was awesome.”
Martinez and Murphy were members of a top-10 recruiting class at Stanford in 2012. Together, they contributed to one of the most successful four-year stretches in program history, playing in three Rose Bowls (winning two) and notching a 43-12 record.
The two frequently were pitted against each other in practice during one-on-ones and 9-on-7 drills. The battles always were healthy and competitive, and gradually a friendship was born.
It took a minute to settle in, but Murphy quickly realized that his sixth-round selection meant he’d remain teammates with Martinez for a little while longer.
“Me and Blake have always been really close friends,” Murphy said. “I remember throwing him a text and was like, ‘Oh yeah, Blake’s there, too.’ I was beyond ecstatic to learn that and go (to Green Bay) with one of my best friends, one of the best players I have familiarity with.”
During his connecting flight through Minnesota, a few fans stopped to congratulate the Packers’ newest offensive lineman and acknowledged how cool it is that he’ll remain teammates with Martinez.
It also reunites Murphy with another former Stanford teammate, receiver Ty Montgomery, who was the Packers’ third-round pick a year ago.
While Murphy never had been to Wisconsin prior to last weekend, the 6-foot-6, 305-pounder has had no problem adjusting to life in Green Bay so far. He loves the fact Lambeau Field is visible from the airport tarmac and houses with painted yellow fences line Lombardi Avenue.
The only thing left is to try a few of the local delicacies.
“I have to eat those cheese curds,” Murphy said. “I have to try them out. I don’t know how much Blake is going to be dabbling in those, but I’ll definitely eat my fair share.”
All kidding aside, this past weekend was gratifying for Murphy after enduring the long wait on draft weekend with his family in San Clemente, Calif.
A two-year starter at right and left tackle, Murphy said he’s open to playing wherever the Packers ask him to. He developed a little experience occasionally playing guard during practices at Stanford.
“He’s a great player,” Martinez said. “I’ve gone against him ever since my freshman year. Great lineman, physical hard-nosed football. Him and (former Stanford guard) Josh Garnett were unstoppable on that right side. Just a great guy.”
Murphy believes he stands to make the most improvement in pass protection, focusing on his footspeed and punch. After run-blocking an estimated 70 percent of the time at Stanford, he understands offensive linemen in Green Bay are protecting an MVP quarterback.
“I think sometimes when I engage a defender, I’ll be leaning a little bit,” Murphy said. “You can get away with that in college, but in the NFL I’m going to find out when it’s Clay Matthews and the boys, you can’t be having those little miscues in your technique or they’re going to take advantage of everything.”
Like first-round pick Kenny Clark (UCLA), Murphy had to return to Stanford following the weekend rookie orientation because he has yet to graduate.
Martinez is eligible to stay in Green Bay for the entire offseason program because he already has his degree in management science and engineering. He needed to take 20 units during his final quarter to graduate in 3½ years.
Once Murphy returns, he’s looking forward to acclimating to Green Bay alongside Martinez.
“People have their big Lombardi trophies in their lawn and their fences painted green. It’s definitely nothing like I’ve ever seen,” Murphy said. “It’s pretty cool. I can’t wait to see it on gameday and when it inches closer to the season.”