Cardinals fourth-round pick Evan Boehm's plan: Earn trust, learn offense

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Evan Boehm wouldn't bite.

No matter how often he was asked Thursday about winning the Arizona Cardinals' starting center position, Boehm refused to entertain the idea.

"I'm here to compete and that's what I want to do," Boehm said. "I'm hungry to go and get started and I want to learn this offense as quickly as possible. I want to go and I want to compete for that starting spot but most importantly I want to help this team out anywhere I can."

However, the four-year starter at Missouri wasn't oblivious or naive about knowing he could end up winning the Cardinals' starting center job.

"I know that there's a chance but I've got to go and earn that chance, and I've got to go and compete my hardest," Boehm said.

Boehm didn't go into last weekend's draft knowing which team needed a center, or which team had a rotation he could crack. He didn't expect to be a first-round pick. But when Friday's second and third rounds ended without a phone call, he was "a little upset." On Saturday, he got Arizona's call and started believing it was "where I needed to be and where I wanted to be."

Boehm is entering OTAs and minicamp with a game plan: Learn from the veterans, especially right guard Evan Mathis and left guard Mike Iupati.

"They're big. They're studs. They're vets," Boehm said. "And that's going to be awesome. I've got to sit in their back pockets and I've got to pick their brains of why they've become so successful in this league and what made them so successful. And that's what I want to do."

Boehm has been in this position before.

As a freshman at Missouri, he competed for and then ultimately won a starting guard position. As he'll do with the Cardinals, Boehm fought older players for the spot. He said he'll rely on that experience in college when he begins working with the veterans in Arizona.

"I knew where I was supposed to be. I sat in the back and I did my job," Boehm said. "That's what I've got to do here. I've got to earn the respect, and it's just not given, and I've got to go out and compete and work hard day-in and day-out to learn this offense and get the respect and the trust of these guys."

There'll be one common thread for Boehm connecting his freshman year at Missouri to his rookie year with the Cardinals. Linebacker Markus Golden enrolled at Missouri the same year that Boehm was a freshman from a junior college. Boehm gravitated toward Golden because he'd already experienced a college atmosphere.

"He helped me out a lot through that," Boehm said.

When Boehm watched Golden with the Cardinals last year, he spent more time watching Arizona's offensive line than his college buddy.

There's another part of Boehm's game plan: Learn the Cardinals offense as quickly as possible. The sooner he can learn it, the sooner he could be working with the veterans on offense.

"I need to come and I need to learn this offense and I need to go in there and put my head down and put my nose in the dirt and start working," Boehm said. "This offense is a complex offense and I think I can learn it. I know I can learn it.

"I just need to earn the trust and the respect from these guys and show them I can do it."