With the 63rd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs drafted their center of the future. Get to know the game of Creed Humphrey.
After a disastrously poor showing during Super Bowl LV, Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach had a mission to rebuild the offensive line during the 2021 NFL offseason. On the first day of free agency, he signed Joe Thuney, the best free-agent guard in the game.
A few days later he took a shot to bring former All-Pro guard Kyle Long out of retirement, giving him a one-year deal. A week later they brought in veteran center Austin Blythe. Last week the team unloaded a blockbuster trade to bring Orlando Brown Jr. to KC from Baltimore to protect the blind side of Patrick Mahomes.
For most teams, four moves in the offseason to bolster line play would be enough for them to move on to other needs. It appears as though the sour taste in the mouths of everyone in the Chiefs organization lingered because on day two of the 2021 NFL Draft the Chiefs made one more move to solidify the front.
Meet Creed Humphrey.
Humphrey left the University of Oklahoma a year early to enter the NFL Draft and was one of the top center prospects in the country headed into day two of the draft.
The Chiefs wasted no time taking him at 63rd overall, and with the pick, they acquired a player that has all the physical intangibles to become a dominant player at the next level. Humphrey also has the attitude and demeanor to become a starter early on in his career.
Fundamentally Humphrey is as good as they come. In pass protection, he rarely is caught over setting, keeps himself between his man and the quarterback, provides solid help and body placement for his guards can use his feet and his upper body to latch on and mirror defenders through extended protection. The ability to mirror as an interior lineman often goes unnoticed, but with a quarterback who can extend plays like none other, this trait is very useful.
A very underrated aspect of his game that not many have touched on is that he can SNAP AND PULL. It may not seem that hard, but there are only a handful of veteran NFL centers that can pull this off. This is something that can only be accomplished through repetition, which is a good indication of the kind of work ethic that Humphrey will bring with him into the NFL.
Humphrey was asked to back block at a high rate for Oklahoma based on their power-heavy run scheme. Back blocking is all about finding the right angle to take to the defender, and using the correct footwork to get to the spot rather than just an overwhelming physical block. The reason Humphrey excels in back blocking is that he has the ability to take the mental side of the game and apply it to the physical side.
So many players have all the physical tools in the world to be great, but they can’t mentally process what is across from them. Humphrey has no problem with this at all, and the play below does a great job of displaying how his mind works on any given rep.
At 6’5″ and 305 pounds, Humphrey is far from undersized and will be one of the larger centers in the game once he is ready to play. He isn’t overly explosive, but every movement he makes is deliberate. This allows him to keep his base against quicker players and not get caught overextended or lunging, to meet quicker players in the gap. Instead, he sticks to his fundamentals, keeps his pads square, and allows his feet to start the fight, and his upper body to finish it.
There is knowing football, and then there is KNOWING football. The play above displays the mental processing side of things for Humphrey. The defense is trying to set him up to just follow the DT upfield on the back block and have the walk-up crash through to make the stop. Humphrey stops his track, redirects back down, and ends up making the block opens up the big run for his back.
Having an understanding of what is going on during any given play can give any player a distinct advantage over his opponent. Creed Humphrey wins many plays before they even begin, just because he knows how to accomplish his assignment, and he knows how to finish plays.
Patrick Mahomes is one of the smartest quarterback’s in the NFL, and now the Chiefs have added a center that will be on the same page as him at all times.
Of course, like many young players Humphrey will have things to work on in his game. The big thing that he must improve upon is his pad level. Many times he can get high in the run game, which counteracts his strength and makes it hard for him to get push off the ball. This also can affect him at times in pass protection. More powerful defensive tackles can get under his pads and rush him into the backfield. This was a primary critique of his game during his week at the Reeses Senior Bowl back in January.
While it looks like he is most certainly the center of the future in Kanas City, the Chiefs have made sure he will have to compete for his starting job during the 2020 NFL season. He will be competing with Austin Blythe, who I wrote about a few weeks ago. Both players share similarities in their backgrounds, as well as in their play style. Blythe has been an established starter on a competitive team for the past few seasons, which will only add to the competition that the Chiefs are trying to create upfront.
The Chiefs main offseason priority was very clear. Protect Patrick Mahomes at all costs. This offseason, the team has exhausted every resource possible making sure that he will be protected in 2021 and beyond. The offensive line was the weakest part of the team in 2020, but after this overhaul, they have added four new players that will all be in the mix for a starting job this upcoming season. There is a very real possibility the offensive line sees five new starters upfront. This is unheard of, especially for a team that made the Super Bowl during the prior season.
The goal in Kansas City is not to reach the Super Bowl.
The goal is to win the Super Bowl.
The front office, the coaches, and the players have all made that abundantly clear, and it is also clear that the hurt from Super Bowl LV still remains.
Creed Humphrey has been thrust into a crucial piece of importance for the history of the Kansas City Chiefs franchise. He is going to be the direct line (literally) between the best quarterback in the game, and the five men tasked to protect him week in and week out. Every great quarterback must have a great offensive line, and every great offensive line must have a great center.
The pieces are in place, now the real work can begin.