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F-Tag for LT D.J. Humphries?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl - Oregon v Wisconsin Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I’d like to give serious props to fellow ROTB writer and podcaster, Johnny Venerable who first proposed many weeks ago that the Cardinals place the f-tag on D.J. Humphries for the 2020 season.

At the time, I tweeted to Johnny that we should see whether D.J. could stay healthy and productive for 16 games.

Well, we now can check that important box.

I also argued at the time that paying D.J. Humphries $14.6M on the f-tag was way more than the level of his play warrants.

While this probably remains true, some key developments have arisen in recent days:

  1. Anthony Castonzo, considered by many to be the cream of the 2020 UFA LT crop, said recently that he may consider retiring—which feels like a Jared Veldheer deja vu.
  2. Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, the LT other than Georgia’s Andrew Thomas who looked like the best fit for the K-Raid, has decided to stay another year at Tuscaloosa.
  3. When one takes a peek at the offensive tackle talent in the 2021 NFL Draft, one better be wearing a big ol’ bib to slobber on—-cause, man, there is star appeal galore among that group, starting with the 2019 Outland Trophy winner, Penei Sewell (6-6, 345, Oregon) in addition to Alex Leatherwood, (6-6, 310, Alabama), Isaiah Wilson (6-7 340, Georgia), Liam Eichenberg (6-6, 305, Notre Dame), and Thayer Munford (6-5, 313, Ohio St.).

Johnny is correct—-by keeping D.J. Humphries in the fold on the f-tag for 2020, the Cardinals can see whether Humphries can stack back-to-back injury free seasons while they try to maintain valuable continuity on the line.

If D.J. does his part, then he would deserve the kind of lucrative, long-term contract he is coveting.

If D.J. does not hold up in 2020, the Cardinals can turn to the 2021 draft, where the tackle pool is deeper and more star studded.

If Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs looked more of the part of a LT—-then tagging D.J. Humphries could be a moot point. However, Wirfs appears to be ideally suited to play RT in the NFL—-and it would be so classic Cardinals to draft Wirfs and, as a rookie, force him to play LT with the idea that if he doesn’t handle it, they will move him in 2021 back to RT.

This just in—-how about the Cardinals start drafting players to play at their natural positions.

Seven year NFL scout, Drae Harris of The Draft Network had this to say about Wirfs:

Pros: Tristan aligns at RT for Iowa’s offense. Smart and versatile enough to swing from RT to LT over the course of a game. He has sufficient overall athleticism. He displays good technique on the perimeter, evidenced in his good hand placement. Displays sufficient initial quickness off the ball. He has Very good punch and inline power in his hands. Plays well in a “phone booth” He is very good at the point of attack in the run game. He is dominant when he is play side in the run game and does a very good job of sealing and getting his body in good positions to create run lanes.. He displays good block temperament on double teams. He will finish blocks and plays hard from snap to whistle. Displays good short set anchor and tenacity at the point of attack. He plays with good anticipatory instincts in his pass set, with regards to stunts and games.

Cons: He struggles at times to redirect on a defender’s counter or second move. Also displays average athleticism to engage LBs at the second level. He doesn’t play with great bend or length on the perimeter. As a result, speed rushers, skilled pass rushers with counter moves and more athletic defensive ends will give him problems at OT in the NFL. Struggles against quicker defender hard inside move. He does not project with true swing ability and would struggle as a LT in the NFL. Can play RT but may struggle against athletic pass rushers in the NFL, but skill set is best suited as a OG.”

And that’s the key question—-just how effective could Tristan Wirfs be at LT in the NFL?

So why not wait a year—-see if Humphries earns the big contract—-and if not, turn to the 2021 NFL Draft where left tackles are stacked like blueberry pancakes dripping in hot butter and maple syrup.

Feast your eyes on this:

Or this—-#70 LT Alex Leatherwood versus Auburn (2019).

Or this—-#74 LT Liam Eichenberg versus NCAA Champion Clemson (2018):

Or this—-#75 LT Thayer Munford versus Michigan (2018):