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After hard transitions, D.J. Humphries reflects on path to NFL

Arizona Cardinals' first-round draft pick D.J. Humphries dons a Cardinals cap after speaking at an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 1, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. Humphries, a tackle from Florida, was selected 24th overall Thursday night at the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: D.J. Humphries, Cardinals OT

Cardinals offensive tackle D.J. Humphries is in OTAs, preparing for his second NFL season. But his path to the pros was a learning experience, one that included hard transitions.

“It’s been fun to see how people get so high on you, and then get low on you,” he told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Wednesday. “You get drafted in the first round, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. You don’t play, you’re garbage.”

Humphries was a first-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Florida. There, he played three seasons after being recruited out of high school in North Carolina.

He saw playing time quickly after arriving at Florida, but said the transition was a challenge.

“I was like a 255 tackle,” he said. “I was coming in as a jumbo tight end… It wasn’t easy at all.”

Coming to the NFL wasn’t any better.

“This transition was definitely a lot harder. The college game is simpler, it’s more related to high school. It’s a lot easier to pick up the offense, and then you can play fast.”

In his first season in the NFL, Humphries didn’t appear in a single game.

“The first game we played, I wasn’t even in a jersey,” he said. “Then being in the playoffs and being in Charlotte, my family wanted to come to the game. I’m telling my family, ‘What do you want to come to the game for? I’m on the sideline. Do you want to come see me in a hoodie?’ Even formulating thoughts like that in my brain, I thought, ‘I never want to feel this again.’”

After spending time on the scout team, the 22-year-old found motivation, saying he learned that he needed to “move the needle every day” to win over head coach Bruce Arians.

“Him and [offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin] started seeing the growth in me, me focusing in and me knowing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and me taking the scout team serious… I think that’s when I started winning them over.”

Now heading into his second season – one in which he hopes to play regularly – he might have some renewed energy; Humphries joked with Bickley and Marotta after the hosts caught him playing air guitar at OTAs.

“Too bad I can’t play for real.”

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