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D.J. Humphries Proving Worthy Of Pro Bowl Consideration

Cardinals' left tackle has been among best players in NFL since Week 5

LT D.J. Humphries has played like one of the best tackles in the league this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
LT D.J. Humphries has played like one of the best tackles in the league this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

D.J. Humphries and Pro Football Focus have not always seen eye-to-eye on his performance.

But this season, they have reached the same conclusion: the Cardinals' left tackle should be in the Pro Bowl conversation.

Humphries is the seventh-highest graded tackle in the NFL this year with a PFF grade of 85.5, which puts him in the vicinity of longtime star protectors like Green Bay's David Bakhtiari, San Francisco's Trent Williams and Seattle's Duane Brown.

It's impossible to judge offensive linemen through a box score, which is why Pro Football Focus' snap-by-snap grading system can carry weight, and Humphries' stellar standing could help his cause.

"I definitely feel like I'm having one of those years, and I'd be very much appreciative (of making the Pro Bowl)," Humphries said. "I've been very nice to PFF this year. They've been showing me a lot of love. Hopefully that helps. Appreciate, y'all, PFF. You see I haven't been talking junk this year."

It wasn't long ago that Humphries was still trying to prove his place as a starting left tackle in the NFL. Between injuries and inconsistency, it took a few years for the former first-round pick to find his groove.

Last season, Humphries began to live up to that potential, playing all 16 games at a solid level to garner a three-year, $43.8 million contract extension.

He's up to new heights now. Since Week 5 against the Jets, Humphries has the third-highest Pro Football Focus grade of any player in the NFL at 92.5, behind only Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

"To see his progress from the first day we got here to now is just tremendous," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "You have to tip your hat to him because he's a guy who had a rough start, and he'll admit that, but has matured and really turned into a great pro."

Humphries hasn't allowed a sack since Week 4 – he has given up two this season, per PFF – and has a stellar run-blocking grade. He's also been durable, playing all but one snap this season.

Right tackle Kelvin Beachum said Humphries has fully tapped into his natural athleticism.

"D.J. moves with a level of suddenness and a level of smoothness that you're not able to coach," Beachum said. "He has that 'It' factor that people look for out of a tackle."

Beachum and Humphries have trained together for years in the offseason. When things weren't going so well for Humphries earlier in his career, Beachum watched him continue to grind.

"Every athlete at some stage deals with injuries, deals with adversity," Beachum said. "I really do think that it's all about how you handle it. Hump was around a number of guys from across the league that found a way to get it done, found a way to play the game at a high level. I wouldn't say that I took him under my wing and that we sat down and had a heart-to-heart. No. He watched me work and I watched him work. When you have that ability, iron sharpens iron. You realize what you've got to do to make your game better."

Humphries is known as a jokester, but Kingsbury said his work ethic has become top-notch.

"Between him and Beach, two real pros out there that handle their business," Kingsbury said. "In between reps, they're over there getting extra work. After practice, they're getting extra work."

The Cardinals have not had a Pro Bowl offensive lineman since guard Mike Iupati made it in 2015. They haven't had a tackle make it since way back in 1996, when Lomas Brown earned the honor.

Despite the production, it could be an uphill battle for Humphries because he does not have the same name recognition of other blindside protectors. But at age-26, Humphries seems to have thrust himself into the conversation.

"That's one of those tags that all those guys have, and obviously I want that," Humphries said. "But I won't act like I'm out here trying to be an (All-Pro). All I'm thinking about is getting Ws and doing my job to make sure we get that. In my mind, if you do that at a high level, that's what comes along with it. Hopefully that will be something I can take on to my name, All-Pro and Pro Bowler, at some point. It's not for me to decide, though. All I can do is go out there and put out good film and let the people decide what it's going to be."