April 30, 2016

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Anyone who was paying attention knew the Arizona Cardinals were in search of a center, and they got one on the final day of the NFL draft.

Evan Boehm, a son of a high school coach who started all 52 games in his career at Missouri, was selected in the fourth round on Saturday and he will have a chance to start right away.

The Cardinals already had addressed needs in the draft's first two days. They drafted Robert Nkemdiche, the powerful defensive lineman from Mississippi with a troubling incident in his recent past, in the first round on Thursday and cornerback Brandon Williams of Texas A&M in the third round Friday.

Arizona had two fifth-round picks and used them to choose strong safety Marqui Christian of Midwestern State and offensive lineman Cole Toner of Harvard. The Cardinals' final pick of the draft was cornerback Harlan Miller of Southeastern Louisiana, chosen in the sixth round.

General manager Steve Keim said the Cardinals got the players they wanted at the positions they wanted.

''This is not always our goal because we said we were going to trust our board,'' he said, ''but we filled needs with players we're excited about. Sometimes that's not always the case when you walk away from the draft.''

Boehm was the 30th player chosen in the fourth round on Saturday and the 128th selected overall.

''I think I'm pretty football intelligent,'' he said in a conference call. ''But the two guards next to me, they are pretty dang good. I can lean on those guys because they know what they are doing and they know how to do it.''

Boehm, who was offered a scholarship at Missouri when he was in the eighth grade, played every game as a senior despite a high ankle sprain.

''He's a state wrestling champ, this guy's tough as nails,'' coach Bruce Arians said. ''He's not going to miss a game. With everything that went on on that football team this year, he was the rock that kept Missouri going.''

Boehm will have to win the starting center job.

''He'll come in and compete. There's no jobs handed out,'' Arians said. ''A.Q. Shipley is a good player and he'll have to fight it out with him, but it's going to be a nice battle.''

The 6-foot-2, 309-pound Boehm knows about the Cardinals from his friend and former teammate, Arizona outside linebacker Markus Golden.

''I talk to him quite a bit and he's had nothing but great things to say about Arizona,'' Boehm said. ''He loves it.''

Someday the Cardinals will have to find a quarterback to replace Carson Palmer, but they didn't see anyone they liked enough to draft.

''There were some guys that we liked,'' Keim said, ''but, at the end of the day, nobody that overshadowed the players we drafted at those particular situations.''

Arians said drafting players ''from Midwestern State to Harvard'' shows how thorough the Cardinals scouting department is.

The deal was sealed on Christian, Keim said, when ex-Cardinal safety and current scout Adrian Wilson raved about him.

Christian said he relished the opportunity to play in the same secondary as Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.

''I get to Arizona and play under their wings, pick their brains and learn from them,'' Christian said. ''It's a great thing. I have some great players to learn from.''

In addition to his obvious intelligence - he said he chose Harvard over Princeton - Toner can play all along the offensive line.

''I could start at tackle for sure,'' he said. ''I can play guard and I can even play center if possible. I haven't played center in college or anything, but I started snapping this offseason and I feel really comfortable doing that.''

For the first time since Keim and Arians took their jobs in January of 2013, the Cardinals did not make a trade during the draft or select a wide receiver.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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