Cardinals new right guard Evan Boehm takes part in a recent OTA.
The similarities were not lost on Evan Boehm. Nor his brother.
Boehm's brother had joked with Boehm that the Cardinals would draft a guard in the fourth round this year, now that Boehm had been installed as the starting right guard going into offseason work. The year before, it had been Boehm – a center by trade – who had been drafted in the fourth round by the Cardinals, with the relatively inexperienced A.Q. Shipley installed at center.
When the Cardinals took guard Dorian Johnson in the fourth round, the text from Boehm's brother wasn't far behind.
"Ha, I told you so," it read.
"Dorian is a great player," Boehm said. "I've watched his film, seen him on the field, he's going to be a great player. It's the NFL, it's a business. It's me over you right now."
That's how Boehm plans on it staying. There was a short time, with Shipley headed into free agency, that Boehm considered his chance of getting the center job many believed he could win as a rookie. But Shipley re-signed, and Boehm's immediate future was – is -- at guard.
"I just want to help my team the best I can," Boehm said. "They drafted me here for a reason. It was to come out and play. If it's to come play right guard, then it's right guard. If it's to play center, then it's center. No matter where I get thrown into the pile, I'll give it my all and play my ass off."
The Cardinals have had a hole at right guard since last season. They signed veteran Evan Mathis to play the spot, but he broke down early and spent most of the season on injured reserve before retiring. Boehm was stuck out there in the next-to-last game of the season after myriad injuries took out other options.
Boehm had played left guard as a high school freshman and as a college freshman. But he had been a center since his sophomore season, and he had never been on the right side.
It's a transition the entire right side is undergoing – Jared Veldheer has moved from left to right tackle as well.
Veldheer's arrival has helped Boehm. In some ways, Boehm said, he has a compatriot in flipping to a new side. But mostly, Veldheer serves an experienced voice to lean upon.
"I think (Evan) is just good at talking to you," Veldheer said. "Some guys just get quiet when they are trying to figure everything out. He does a good job communicating, which is good. That's been helpful."
That Johnson would win a starting job seems unlikely. Offensive line coach/Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin has been hesitant to elevate rookies – Boehm and 2015 first-round pick D.J. Humphries are the most recent examples – and Goodwin also recently said Johnson's playbook was so simple in college the learning curve will be steep early on.
Meanwhile, Boehm will work to stay put, whether Johnson becomes a factor or veteran John Wetzel makes a push or even if the Cards think about signing a veteran near camp.
"It's my spot to lose," Boehm said. "Once I got on that starting five, I don't want to lose it."
Images of the defensive players currently on the Cardinals' roster