By: Kayla Mortellaro
April 30, 2016
TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals used their fourth round selection, 128th overall, on center Evan Boehm; the 167th pick in round five on S Marqui Christian; the 170th pick in round five on T Cole Toner; and the 205th overall selection in round six on CB Harlan Miller.
C Evan Boehm – Round 4: 128
Boehm was a four-year starter at Missouri, playing in 52 games, commanding the offensive line and reading defenses. Boehm stands 6-foot-3 inches and 303 pounds. Boehm currently holds the most consecutive starts for the Mizzou Tigers as he played left guard his freshman year and played three years at center.
“A guy that, one of probably four or five natural centers that we identified in the draft process having the ability to be a starter in the National Football league,” GM Steve Keim said Saturday afternoon. “The intangibles are excellent, we have talked to you guys about our personal character and our football character grades, he was probably one of five or six players that warranted a double A.”
For the Cardinals, there is a hole at the center position with Lyle Sendelin once again leaving the team as a free agent and A.Q. Shipley the only center on the roster. Boehm is aware of the need at the center position and is excited about his opportunity to compete.
“I can’t wait to go and compete and try and earn a spot,” Boehm said Saturday morning on a conference call. “It’s going to be tough, but I got to get in there and learn this offense and be able to compete for that spot. I’m very excited to do that.”
Head coach Bruce Arians added that he will come in and compete right away for the starting position, although starting positions aren’t just handed out.
Much has been made about the Cardinals offense being a tough scheme to come in and learn, and even more so, the center position is asked to understand a lot. But Boehm is not daunted by the challenge because of his football background, that being the son of a high school football coach.
“I think I am pretty football intelligent,” Boehm said. “If you look at the two guards next to me, they’re pretty dang good. I can lean on those guys because they know what their doing and how to do it. So, I think if I go in there and I keep working hard and try and learn this offense and get it down, I have two great guys next to me that will be able to help.”
He is considered to have raw and unique power coupled with his quick feet for the center position. He works well covering A-gap blitzes and stunts. But Boehm believes he is athletic enough for any scheme.
In addition to Boehm’s football savvy, he has an unwavering desire to play the game and compete.
“I like to compete and I like to dominate,” he said. “I hate losing. That is one thing I can’t stand, is losing. So, when I got that call, you know, the coach’s got a kid who is going to compete day-in and day-out and I am going to give it my all, all the time.”
So much so that he played “basically” his entire senior season at Mizzou with a high-ankle sprain.
“I don’t think I was ever 100 percent but when I went out there, I gave 100 percent of what I could,” Boehm said.
S Marqui Christian – Round 5: 167
Marqui Christian is a 6-foot 1 inch safety, listed at 205 pounds, where he played his college football at Midwestern State.
Playing in the Lone Star Conference, he earned the J.V. Sikes Defensive Player of the Year award and the Defensive Back of the Year honor. His decorated career at Midwestern State included being named an All-LSC first-team performer three years in a row.
“Its a dream, it’s definitely a dream,” Christian said Saturday afternoon. “I was [expecting to hear my named call] but just didn’t know where.”
With Christian’s versatility and size, he is mostly expected to be a hybrid player. The Cardinals have had success with this before in shifting Deone Bucannon from safety to a linebacker role in the box role. And Christian hopes that his versatility will be a similar fit in the scheme.
“He can do everything,” Arians said. “He can cover a lot of ground. He’s a 4.4 guy, play man-to-man. He can be interchangeable, like we like to do with our safeties. He will strike you.”
Christian wanted to make sure it was known what he brings to the table as the newest Cardinals safety.
“[The Cardinals are getting] a tough player, instinctive, fast, strong, quick, a leader, smart, dependable, great character, consistent,” Christian said. I only know one speed and that’s full speed. I’m just ready to come in and learn and help the team.”
T Cole Toner – Round 5: 170
Cole Toner is listed at 6-foot 5 and 306 pounds. Toner played all his college football at Harvard at the tackle position, but said he is prepared to step-in and play guard or even back-up at center.
“I am prepared to do it [play guard], I am ready,” Toner said. “I definitely think I can be a guard. I think I can play anywhere. I haven’t played center in college or anything but I started snapping this offseason and I feel really comfortable doing that.”
Keim echoed the sentiments that Toner has the flexibility to play multiple positions and that is what caught their eye about his game at the Senior Bowl.
“He still is a little raw,” Keim said. “But convinced that he has all the physical tools and the passion to continue to grow and get better and be a player in this league.”
Toner was named to the 2015 Associated Press All-American team in part for his toughness, and footwork that allows him to win in run and pass blocking situations.
Despite playing at Harvard, Toner feels that he is ready for the NFL caliber of play. His time at the Senior Bowl prepared him for the next level of competition. He also went up against former teammate and Ivy-League Defensive Player of the Year, and now current Colts pass rusher Zach Hodges every day in practice for two seasons.
CB Harlan Miller – Round 6: 205
Harlan Miller played his college football at Southeastern Louisiana where he earned third-team FCS All-American honors by the Associated Press in 2014 and improved to second-team FCS All-American by the AP in 2015. Miller is 6 -foot- tall and weighs 182 pounds.
“I’m very happy with this,” Miller said Saturday afternoon. “I’m just glad I got the opportunity to play in the NFL and to fulfill my dream.”
Miller had the chance to prove himself against tougher competition by playing in the Senior Bowl, where he earned Defensive Player of the Week.
In addition to his cornerback work, Miller spent an extensive amount of time at punt-returner.
Last season, the Cardinals averaged 24.1 yards per game on kick off returns, but saw David Johnson, who was utilized as a kick returner in the beginning of the season, transition into their full-time running back after injuries. More than likely, with the production Johnson gave to the Cardinals, he will stay as a primary rusher. On punt returns, the team averaged just 7.4 yards per punt return and had no touchdowns using a combination of Patrick Peterson and J.J. Nelson.
“He’ll definitely compete for that [punt returner position],” Arians said. “We’ll wait and see [whether Patrick Peterson will continue fielding punts]. Feel great with J.J. [Nelson]. J.J.’s ready to go. He’s over that one drop. He [Miller] is very capable though.”