At the conclusion of OTAs (organized team activities), Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was asked about the young players and who, if any, stood out or showed the most progress. He has made a point in previous offseasons to praise players like Tyrann Mathieu and John Brown just after they were drafted. He also spoke of how Alex Okafor stood out in his second offseason.
However, that was not the case on Thursday, at least in reference to the "young players," or the rookies and guys in their second offseason.
"It's really hard because so many (of the rookies) are linebackers and defensive linemen," he said. "They're all what we thought as far as athletes. But nobody just jumped off the table because they don't have their pads on."
But there was one player who got a lot praise and that is third year guard Earl Watford. Arians said he was "probably the lineman who had the best OTAs."
He's playing four positions and playing extremely well," Arians said. He practiced at both tackle and both guard positions and, in the words of Arians, "he could push" for three of the jobs. He isn't a threat to Jared Veldheer at left tackle and at center. Apparently that didn't go so well when they tried him there.
"He's a heck of an athlete, so hopefully the lights come on," he said. "I'm really anxious to see him in camp."
Even if he doesn't land a starting job, and it would seem unlikely he would, that versatility would serve him well.
The Cardinals will likely keep eight linemen. Rookie D.J. Humphries will probably be the backup swing tackle and either Ted Larsen or A.Q. Shipley will be the backup center and guard. That eighth guy will need to be position flexible and Watford is, as of now, proving to be able to play both guard and tackle.
Watford so far in his career has not shown much other than he looks the part of an NFL lineman. Could this be the year he puts it together?