Evolution of a left tackle: D.J. Humphries growing into role

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D.J. Humphries is hoping to stay healthy and be productive in 2018. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) D.J. Humphries is hoping to stay healthy and be productive in 2018. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Humphries was the Cardinals' first-round draft pick in 20145, 24th overall. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Humphries was the Cardinals' first-round draft pick in 20145, 24th overall. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
In 2018, he’ll be protecting the blindsides of new quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) In 2018, he’ll be protecting the blindsides of new quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Humphries, while rehabbing his knee all off-season at the Cardinals facility, has gotten a longer and closer look at new head coach Steve Wilks than some of his teammates. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Humphries, while rehabbing his knee all off-season at the Cardinals facility, has gotten a longer and closer look at new head coach Steve Wilks than some of his teammates. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

It’s likely too soon to say the transformation is complete but to compare D.J. Humphries in April of 2018 to the 21-year-old who walked into the organization as the Cardinals’ first-round draft pick in 2015, is quite remarkable.

He looks different, sounds different and carries himself different.

Even Humphries refers to his rookie self in the past tense.

“Oh man, that dude was something else, man,” said the now 24-year-old during a recent break rehabbing his knee and participating in the Cardinals off-season training program. “He was pretty cool though, that dude was pretty cool. I don’t think this guy is as cool as that dude. He was a pretty cool dude.”

Humphries may have liked that fun-loving kid but to the Cardinals coaching staff at the time, Humphries was the definitive work in progress. While riding the bench during his rookie season, head coach Bruce Arians nicknamed Humphries, “Knee Deep” – the insinuation being that a normal kick in the backside wasn’t enough to motivate the first-year player out of the University of Florida. Humphries was inactive for all 16 regular season games and both playoff games. He was the only first-round draft pick to be inactive the entire season.

[RELATED: Arizona selects Florida OT DJ Humphries with the 24th overall NFL pick (April 30, 2015)]

“Maturing over time, I think that’s something that everybody does,” said Humphries. “I’m just blessed to be in a position to have the opportunity to be able to mature and step in and do the stuff I said I was going to do as a rookie when I was that guy. I’m just blessed to be sitting in front of you all today still in the same colors and show that progress and not have to do it from another team.”

Humphries battled injuries in 2017, his first season as the Cardinals full-time starting left tackle. But when Humphries was healthy and on the field, he showed signs that he could successfully man the critical position now and possibly for a long, long time. In 2018, he’ll be protecting the blindsides of new quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon.

“I’m excited,” said Humphries. “We’ve got some fresh faces in there. Let’s get this thing rolling and headed towards the promised land.”

Humphries, while rehabbing his knee all off-season at the Cardinals facility, has gotten a longer and closer look at new head coach Steve Wilks than some of his teammates. He’s impressed with the day to day philosophies of Wilks. Wilks’ attention to detail reminds of Humphries of the first male authority figure in his life – his father, D.J. Humphries Sr.

“I’ve never been that guy but my dad put that into me strong,” said Humphries. “I was always like, man I want to go to the league and I want to go Division I but he was like, man, you are in the ninth grade. Just focus on doing this right now and all that stuff will be ahead of you. If you do this to the best of your ability today than tomorrow will add up like you want it to.”

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