Robert Nkemdiche generated the headlines, while Brandon Williams created some question marks and Marqui Christian has created some buzz.
But of all the Cardinals’ rookies, Evan Boehm may have the greatest impact.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has said Boehm will not be handed a job, and instead will battle for a center spot that was manned by Lyle Sendlein the last eight seasons.
That’s why, according to ESPN’s Field Yates, Boehm is one of 10 rookies not taken among the first 20 picks who could compete for a starting job in 2016.
Boehm, a fourth-round pick, brings something to the table every offensive line coach wants: consistency. He started every single game of his college career — from his true freshman through his senior season — and now looks to pry the job away from A.Q. Shipley, who started three games for the Cardinals last season. Shipley is a journeyman who has played on six teams since entering the league in 2009. It’s likely a matter of time until Boehm takes over this role, and while coach Bruce Arians has not been hesitant to be patient with rookies, this former Missouri Tiger should at least compete for starting time.
Boehm started 52 games in four seasons for Missouri, the last three of which were at center. While the Cardinals did not spend a high pick on him — No. 128 overall — it’s difficult to imagine they do not envision him manning the middle of their offensive line at some point, possibly as soon as this season.
At the same time, Shipley does have NFL experience, with 45 appearances and 19 career starts under his belt, and last season he filled in for an injured Sendlein during the Cardinals’ NFC West-clinching win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Nothing has to be decided yet, and it’s possible another player will emerge as the team’s choice for Week 1 against the New England Patriots. If not, the next handful of months of mini-camp, OTAs and training camp should be fun to watch as the battle between Boehm and Shipley rages on.
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