The Arizona Cardinals have signed a number of young players to "future contracts" for the 2016 season. As we move closer to the beginning of free agency, we should get to know them. Today we begin with center Valerian Ume Ezeoke.
With Valerian, I was actually able to get him on the podcast. He actually reached out to me on Twitter and that's how this started. I had originally planned on doing a writeup on each of the newcomers, but this made it easier.
So here we go.
Valerian was a four-year starter at center for New Mexico State. He was a team captain his senior season, the first season they designated team captains for the season, rather than honorary captains for each game.
He is listed by the team at 6-3, 295 pounds, but he tells me he is at 308 and feels great at that weight.
He tells us he is a thinker and loves breaking down film. As the center in college, he made all the offensive calls. He considers himself strong in the mental side of the game. He also loves to run block.
He went undrafted in 2015 and signed right away with the Atlanta Falcons. He had expected to get drafted in the late rounds, but didn't get discouraged because all he wanted was a chance. He signed with Atlanta because the team had been in communication the most and had shown the most interest.
He ended up getting cut out of training camp and did not get the call back from anyone last season. He said that was tough. But he kept his head down and has continued to train.
He chose to join the Cardinals this offseason because they showed interest since last season and had been in communication. When he signed here, he met with some of the scouts and with offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin. He has not yet met Bruce Arians or the front office "executive branch" people yet.
Looking for information on him, we find an athletic and hard-working young guy. He earned the nickname "The Governor" in college. One of his coaches would say, "Nothing happens until Ume gets there."
For a 300-pounder, he is strong and pretty quick. He benched 25 reps of 225 pounds at his Pro Day. he has a 30-inch vertical leap and he had an 8' 10" broad jump. He ran the 40 in 5.45 seconds and his 10 and 20-yard splits were 1.75 and 3.10 seconds.
He can play center or either guard position and even played some tackle in high school.
He believes he can play in the league. He has held up against some of the biggest guys. He will line up against guys like Campbell, Corey Peters and Rodney Gunter in practice. And with the center position one that can be won this offseason, Valerian tells us he wants to be part of the future of the team. I, for one, wish him luck. He certainly has the mindset and the character to be a Cardinal. Now he has the chance to prove he has the ability to learn and to produce on the field.
Listen to the full interview using the streaming player above or below, or use this link to download the show directly.