Creed Humphrey helping Mahomes, proving to be draft steal

Each week throughout the 2021 season, we’ll analyze our NFL draft take of the week — a more youthful gamer whose NFL success has actually gone beyond where he was prepared. We’ll attempt to recall at the why and how of where they were picked and what we considered that possibility prior to the draft.

Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey

Kansas City Chiefs
6-foot-4, 302 pounds
2020 NFL draft: Round 2, No. 63 general

The Chiefs went into the offseason understanding they required at all expenses to develop a bulwark around their most important possession. 

Super Bowl LV saw the Chiefs’ damaged offending line come totally unglued in the 31-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Patrick Mahomes hardly able to take a breeze without being totally swallowed up in the middle of a relentless pass rush.

Kansas City’s front workplace tossed the cooking area sink at the position, very first finalizing Joe Thuney and enticing Kyle Long out of retirement, and after that trading its first-round choice in the Orlando Brown trade. But that was simply the start.

In the draft in April, the Chiefs utilized 2 tease blockers — Humphrey in Round 2, followed by guard Trey Smith in Round 6. Their “carpet bombing” method revealed a near fascination with getting that position rectified. And it has actually settled in spades.

Kansas City Chiefs center Creed Humphrey has actually been significant as a novice. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Yes, the Chiefs’ offense struck the skids at one point this season, and the line had a hard time in a loss to the Tennessee Titans. But it’s almost difficult not to see how well the group is carrying out now, specifically provided the contributions of the 2 novices (Humphrey and Smith).

Humphrey’s task is even harder provided his function. It’s real that Mahomes is the switchboard of the Chiefs’ offense. But the novice center is accountable for snapping the ball to Mahomes on every play and keeping the passing lanes totally free and clear. Nothing weakens a QB’s efficiency rather like A-gap pressure in their face.

How is the precocious novice doing it? Well, he’s showing he can have fun with the savvy of a multi-year veteran. Humphrey captured our eye in the 41-14 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10, utilizing a subtle head raise to draw a protective charge. We’re questioning if he may have had a couple of optional acting classes at OU.

When you make that level of approval from Kreutz, among the very best centers of the previous generation, you’re doing something right. Pro Football Focus concurs, providing Humphrey the very best grade of any novice in the NFL this season and score as the leading general veteran center, playing each and every single offending breeze for the Chiefs.

“He’s done a nice job with it,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid stated. “He’s smart, he’s football smart, which is essential, and after that he’s a great gamer. He’s got terrific balance and strength, so he fits right in.

“He doesn’t talk much, period, but he does a great job with the (line) calls and gets done what he needs to get done. When he does speak up, people listen. He’s got the guys’ respect.”

So how did Humphrey slip to the end of Round 2 in a league that badly needs centers? Let’s go back to the spring and reexamine Humphrey’s pre-draft projection.

Why did Creed Humphrey slip in the draft?

Center is a bit if a strange position when it comes to the NFL draft. It’s considered an important position to some; others view it as perhaps the third-most important offensive line spot behind the two tackle positions.

In recent years, we’ve had one or zero centers land in Round 1, followed by an average of two or three more selected in Rounds 2 and 3 combined. Some college centers are eventually moved to guard, and some non-centers later are converted to the position in the league.

So on the one hand, Humphrey going 63rd overall doesn’t feel like a massive slight, even if he was the third center drafted this year. The first was Landon Dickerson, who has started nine games at guard for the Eagles (but could play center when Jason Kelce retires). Josh Myers, who started the first five games this season for the Packers before landing on injured reserve, went one pick before Humphrey.

Dickerson was one of the more decorated OL prospects in the 2021 NFL draft class. Injuries were really the only thing that clouded his evaluation. Humphrey being taken after Myers was surprising to some league observers but hardly considered stunning.

Most of the pre-draft concerns about Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey have proven to be unfounded. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

Most of the pre-draft concerns about Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey have proven to be unfounded. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

The biggest knocks on Humphrey appeared to be his shorter arms (32 1/2 inches) and smaller hands (9 1/2 inches), that he wasn’t always able to anchor against burlier nose tackles and that Humphrey’s athletic testing numbers didn’t always manifest themselves on the field. He also was inexperienced with under-center snapping and is lefthanded, which is rare for a center.

Most of those concerns have proven to be very much unfounded so far. His college experience (37 career starts), wrestling background, positional savvy and quick reaction skills all appear ideal fits for the NFL game, especially in the Chiefs’ offense where Mahomes is the game’s best when he has time and space to operate.

How we viewed Humphrey as a prospect

We actually were stunned at how low we rated Humphrey, rating him as our No. 81 overall prospect. No other way to say it — it looks like we whiffed badly here.

Funny enough, our assessment of him was actually pretty spot on, calling Humphrey a “noise, wise and stable pivot with battling background and the attitude and method to be a 12-year pro.”

Where we missed was the upside. Humphrey was billed as a high-floor prospect, but it’s clear he’s more than just a solid player. What we wrote …

Profiles as a great possibility however with a minimal ceiling.

… was simply a misfire. We’ll take the L. In addition to the head-bob technique versus the Raiders, highlighting his technical capability, we have actually seen him get used to quicker-rushing interior linemen much better than he did early in the season and carry out regularly as a run blocker who can wall off protectors and enter into area to open huge lanes.

He’s dipping into the level you’d anticipate of somebody with several years of beginning in the league. If the NFL was a real meritocracy, Humphrey would be an Offensive Rookie of the Year prospect. (But we understand how that chooses offending linemen.)

“He just feels more comfortable,” Mahomes stated just recently, through the Kansas City Star. “I mean, he’s played (well) the entire season, but I think he’s seen more and more defenses, he’s seen more and more pressures and blitzes, and he understands what we’re trying to do as an offense. 

“That center position is kind of like the quarterback. You get more comfortable with the more snaps you get, and so now he can let his talent be shown. He can go out there and be who he is because he has a (comfort) with the offense.”

Future projection

It’s tough not to believe that our initial prognostication of Humphrey being a 12-year pro is area on. Why we didn’t provide him a greater draft grade is anybody’s guess.

Reid has actually usually discovered fantastic skill at center. He discovered undrafted Hank Fraley early in his Eagles training period and later on scooped up possible Hall of Famer Jason Kelce in Round 6. Together, that match manned the position at an extremely high level for the majority of Reid’s period in Philadelphia.

Upon showing up in Kansas City, Reid assisted turn Rodney Hudson into among the league’s finest centers prior to he left for the Raiders. Hudson’s replacement, Mitch Morse, was a previous second-rounder who dealt with the area rather well for several years after that in Kansas City.

It’s quite clear that Reid and his offending line coach, Andy Heck, have an eye for skill — and a specific propensity for discovering it at center. 

Humphrey is a near-perfect suitable for Reid, his personnel and this offense, and the method the novice’s profession has actually begun, it appears that he will not need to wait long to begin hearing some Pro Bowl and maybe All-Pro honors coming his method.

We honestly ought to have been more bullish on his forecast since Humphrey currently appears like a gem partway through his novice project.

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