clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chiefs coach praises rookie center Creed Humphrey’s ‘alpha mentality’

On Thursday, Kansas City’s offensive line coach Andy Heck discussed the rookie — who may already be the NFL’s best center.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In a week where there have seemed to be endless narratives about problems facing the 2-3 Kansas City Chiefs, one player has been recognized for his outstanding play. Center Creed Humphrey — selected in the second round with the 63rd pick of the 2021 NFL Draft — received a pair of notable mentions from Pro Football Focus.

PFF ranked the Oklahoma product as the league’s top-performing rookie — and best overall center through five weeks.


PFF overall grade: 87.1

Humphrey quickly went from “he looks good for a rookie” to “he looks good for an NFL player, period” over the past couple of weeks. The former Oklahoma star is now the highest-graded center in the league and has allowed only two pressures on 240 pass-blocking snaps all season.

When Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck spoke to the media on Thursday, he appeared unsurprised with the quality of Humphrey’s play so early in his career.

“Creed’s done a great job,” Heck agreed. “I think one of the best things — besides being a big, strong, physically talented guy — is he’s very smart. He’s a smart football player. He’s a smart person. And he’s got a high football IQ.”

In particular, Heck praised Humphrey’s ability to perform well on his first attempt — or with little practice.

“He’s really able to take in a lot of information,” Heck explained. “And he’s got it on the first shot. He’s got good vision. As you’re learning different coverages — and different disguises — he’s able to take something you’re describing to him, picture it on his head, and recognize it when he sees it on film. As opposed to many of us — who might need to have that described, see it on tape, see it in a walkthrough [and] miss it once in practice. He gets it right away. And that really helps him play fast and strong quicker.”

Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Heck compared Humphrey’s understanding of the game to a recent Kansas City fan favorite: Super Bowl champion right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

“It’s few and far between,” Heck said of such knowledge. “And it’s definitely an A+ strength of Creed’s.”

From the moment he arrived after the draft, Humphrey appears to have been treated as the starter. Because he’s made his high-level play seem almost routine, it is easy to forget that he has only made five starts — and is still learning to play at the pro level.

“Like everybody on the team — and in our room — he’s got stuff he’s working on,” Heck observed. “Playing with lower pad level — things like that. He’s done a really nice job.

“If there’s a pleasant surprise — because I’m just getting to know him really early in his career — I like the way he works. That’s something you know second-hand from hearing from trusted sources and observing. But you really don’t know until you’re around him — working on a daily basis. And he’s got a great work ethic.”

Beyond his early success on the field, Heck took the opportunity to note how Humphrey’s leadership is already helping the team.

“If we make a coaching point,” said Heck, “for example — ‘Hey this has got to get done’ — I’ll see him get that done or work on getting that done. This is important — especially at the center position— [that] you’ve got that alpha mentality: ‘I’m not just taking a back seat’ [or] ‘I’m the rookie, waiting my turn to be a leader.’ He views himself as a leader. And acts accordingly — in a way you’d see a seasoned vet act — in a good way. That really serves him well at that position.”

Arrowhead Pride Premier

Sign up now for a 7-day free trial of Arrowhead Pride Premier, with exclusive updates from Pete Sweeney on the ground at Arrowhead, instant reactions after each game, and in-depth Chiefs analysis from film expert Jon Ledyard.