Arizona Cardinals drafting of D.J.Humphries paying off

A position change for the 2015 first-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals has improved the play of the offensive tackle

Throughout the 2015 season, and into the offseason, it looked as if the Arizona Cardinals had made a mistake. Last year’s first-round draft pick, D.J.Humphries just couldn’t get on the field. In college terms, he had basically red-shirted his rookie year, a huge disappointment to say the least.

Even so, management and the coaching staff continued to have faith in the University of Florida product. More than a few eyebrows were raised when he was handed the starting right tackle job for the 2016 campaign. The departure of free agent Bobby Massie created an opportunity for Humphries to prove himself worthy of his draft status.

Humphries held his own through 10 games, proving himself more adept at run-blocking than pass protection. Playing next to the experienced Evan Mathis was a benefit, the right guard serving as an on-field mentor. Humphries’ play dipped a bit when Mathis suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

On Halloween, left tackle Jared Veldheer was placed on injured reserve with a torn triceps. He was replaced by John Wetzel, but Wetzel failed to impress at the most important position on the offensive line. With Arizona still alive in the playoff hunt, a change needed to be made.

Humphries moved to the left side, making his first start there in a road game against the Atlanta Falcons. Although the Cardinals lost the game, Humphries held up well protecting Carson Palmer’s blind side. He played even better there last week during a huge win over the Washington Redskins.

Left tackle is actually Humphries more natural position. It’s the position he played in college. It’s obviously been a small sample size, but he has looked more comfortable there then he did on the right side.

The idea of Humphries remaining at left tackle when Veldheer returns next season has been floated. Veldheer could possibly be an even more dominant player on the right side. It’s possible that scenario will be experimented with in the offseason.

The good news is that Humphries, unlike last season, is making a contribution. Not just contributing but playing well. Kind of what you would expect out of a first-round draft pick.

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