Florida's stubborn OT D.J. Humphries cements meteoric rise
Don’t ever tell former Florida offensive tackle D.J. Humphries he can’t do something.
After being advised to return to school, Humphries declared himself ready for the NFL, then got drafted at No. 24 overall Thursday night by the Arizona Cardinals.
The pick continued a streak of four consecutive SEC players selected in the first round, including Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who edged Humphries as the No. 1 offensive tackle selected from the conference.
Humphries’ rise up NFL draft boards has been fun to watch, but who thought of him as a first-round pick as the Gators exited the 2014 season? The Draft Advisory Board recommended Humphries return to Florida for another year of seasoning under new head coach Jim McElwain.
“I took it as a challenge almost,’’ Humphries told reporters at the NFL Combine. “They told me I should come back so I’m going to show them why I should come out.”
And he did just that.
Humphries checked into the NFL Combine at 6-foot-5, 307 pounds, bigger than perceived. Scouts had questioned Humphries’ size while acknowledging his tremendous athleticism and upside.
One of the biggest signees ever for Will Muschamp in Gainesville, the former five-star was the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country in ’12 and was the top prep player in North Carolina.
Humphries’ healthiest year at Florida was his true freshman season, when he was named a Freshman All-American by several publications. He started three games and appeared in 12.
However, his sophomore and junior seasons were somewhat injury-filled. Humphries started at left tackle the first six games of ’13 before a knee injury ended his year. His junior season saw him start 10 games before missing the final three games.
Although Humphries may not have maximized his talent in Gainesville, there’s a lot to like for Cardinals fans. Scouts have recently been drooling over Humphries’ superior footwork, athleticism and potential to be a long-term solution at one of the NFL’s most important positions: left tackle.
Jared Veldheer starts at left tackle for the Arizona Cardinals for now, and Humphries likely will compete for the starting right tackle job with Bobby Massie in this year’s training camp.
“Humphries has the highest upside of any tackle prospect in the draft,’’ wrote Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout and NFL draft analyst. “He could hold down the left tackle spot for the next decade.”
Humphries’ hunch on turning pro early paid off Thursday night.
SDS Director of Distribution Jon Cooper contributed to this story.