Cardinals select OL Humphries with No. 24 pick
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) When Steve Keim was promoted to Arizona general manager three years ago, one of his first commitments was to develop a strong offensive line.
The Cardinals took yet another step in that direction Thursday with the selection of tackle D.J. Humphries of Florida with the 24th overall pick in the NFL draft.
Although a left tackle in college, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Humphries presumably would slide to the right side to compete with returning starter Bobby Massie, who has a year left on his contract.
Coach Bruce Arians saw no problem for Humphries making that transition.
''Not with the athleticism he has,'' Arians said.
Speaking in a telephone conference call, Humphries agreed that it wouldn't be a problem.
''If you can play left you can play right,'' he said. ''If you play right you can play left. So I'm ready for any position they need me to play.''
Humphries seems to be bringing a personality as big as he is.
''I feel I'm a pretty awesome person,'' he said. ''I try not to sugarcoat or script anything. I try to just keep it all real and let people get to know the real me. I want people to feel good when I leave the room. I want people to feel happy and smiling and stuff. I just try to be me pretty much, and a hard worker man.''
Any hopes the Cardinals may have had of landing a running back ended much earlier in the evening when Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon were selected far ahead of their pick.
Keim has steadily upgraded the offensive line, signing free agent left tackle Jared Veldheer before last season, then adding free agent left guard Mike Iupati this offseason.
''Being here for 17 years, many of you know we've had a lot of lean years up front, where our offensive line was a major weakness,'' Keim said. ''I think one of our goals all along - and (team president) Michael (Bidwill) and I talked about this two years ago. The minute we hired Bruce we wanted to emphasize getting bigger and more physical up front. Now when you look at our offensive line, I don't see many glaring weaknesses.''
Arizona potentially would have two first-round picks on the right side of the line. Guard Jonathan Cooper was the eighth overall pick in 2013 but missed his rookie season with a broken leg. Cooper returned last season but battled a turf toe problem. Iupati also was a first-round pick.
The Cardinals must replace center Lyle Sendlein, who was released.
The 21-year-old Humphries left Florida after his junior season. He missed seven games two years ago with a knee injury and two last season with an ankle injury. He was advised by the NFL junior advisory council to return to school but decided to come out anyway, saying he was sure he would be a first-round pick.
''After I stopped doubting myself and came to my senses, it wasn't that hard for me,'' he said.
Arizona needs help at outside pass rusher, but two of them - Bud Dupree and Shane Ray - went just ahead of the Cardinals' pick.
Keim said it still would have been Humphries. The general manager said the Cardinals had the big lineman No. 13 on their draft board.
Keim said Humphries was the most athletic offensive tackle in the draft. Two players at that position were picked ahead of him - Andrus Peat of Stanford by New Orleans at No. 13 and Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M by Cincinnati at No. 21.
''The thing that we loved about him is he's not only skilled but has tremendous heart and passion for the game,'' Keim said. ''When you watched the offensive tackles play, he plays with a nasty temperament.''
Humphries, though, said that sometimes he gets too fired up and hurts his team.
He said he wants ''to play calmer and not get riled up so much.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL