In 2021, Kansas City Chiefs fans have been treated to watching one of the best offensive lines in recent memory. Last Sunday, it seemed there was a highlight reel block being thrown every down, with enough pancakes to open a chain of IHOP franchises that stretches from Arrowhead to SoFi Stadium.
Smack dab in the middle of this "Great Barrier" Chiefs unit is rookie center Creed Humphrey, who has already achieved a sort of folk hero status among the Kansas City faithful. As of the writing of this story, Humphrey is currently the highest-graded center on Pro Football Focus and the fourth highest-graded offensive lineman in the entire NFL.
To highlight how good Humphrey has been, he has only surrendered one sack in 506 pass-block snaps played this year. But that is only half of the story — he's been better at run blocking, routinely blowing defenders off the ball at the point of attack. So much so that he has begun to garner national attention and even some rookie of the year buzz.
When he was asked about the success Humphrey has had so early in his career, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid explained that you never quite know how a rookie lineman will pan out when you draft them, especially at center.
"You come in, and you've got all this stuff dumped on you, the mental part of the game, and Creed has handled that," said Reid. "Then, Trey (Smith) has brought a different style in there. He's going to maul you and try to beat you up and that whole deal, so he does a nice job with that. There's a physical presence to his game. Both of them have a ton of room to grow, but they're sure doing a nice job right now."
For Reid, one of the main things he's noticed is that this group of linemen, especially Humphrey and Smith, have a mean streak in them.
"The ability to come off the ball and smack people, that ends up being important for the quarterback working things under center," said Reid during his press conference on Wednesday. "The run game and the pass game have also been a plus, so it's a bunch of stuff thrown in there. The more physical you can be upfront and the better you run the ball, in theory, the better your play-action should be."
And it's not just his coach who is taking notice of Creed's stellar play. Arrowhead Pride advocate Peter Schrager named Humphrey one of his Week 10 "Fabulous Five" for literally throwing Las Vegas Raiders safety Dallin Leavitt five yards downfield like a rag doll.
The full video from our friends at "Good Morning Football" can be seen below. Humphrey starts at the 1:04 mark.
Coach @PSchrags names his Week 10 Schrager's Fabulous Five:— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) November 17, 2021
5. @chris_barmore, @Patriots
4. @creed_humphrey, @Chiefs
3. Jevon Holland, @MiamiDolphins
2. @dreeday32, @Patriots
1. @MacJones_10, @Patriots
Lots of love from Coach for New England this week pic.twitter.com/5pH1tScNM7
If you don't want to watch the whole video and instead just want to watch Humphrey brutalize Leavitt, check out the clip below that was posted by former Chief Mitchell Schwartz.
Creed in open space! Slips but keeps going and blasts the defender!! pic.twitter.com/vzxS8lEb2o— Mitchell Schwartz (@MitchSchwartz71) November 15, 2021
It would be one thing if the above highlight were a rarity, but thus far in his NFL career, Humphrey has made the exceptional look commonplace.
So much so that 610 Sports Radio personality Cody Tapp recorded his own rendition of the band Creed's 1999 smash hit, "Higher" for the Cody & Gold midday show, in which Cody belts out the chorus, "Can we vote Creed higher?"
But it's not just Kansas City radio that's banging the Humphrey drum.
Pro Football Focus floated Humphrey's name on Twitter this week, next to current rookie of the year front runners, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes attributes his rookie center's recent success as the fruit of getting reps under his belt. Mahomes believes that Humphrey is just now hitting his stride and that his best football is still ahead of him.
"I think he [Humphrey] just feels more comfortable," said Mahomes. "I mean he's played good 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 comfortability with the offense."
Coaches often worry about rookies because they will struggle to learn the complexities of the NFL game and struggle to learn a system other than the one they ran in college for the last four years. Mahomes said that he was surprised Humphrey could grasp so much as a rookie but that his experience in college helped him with the transition from college to the NFL.
"He started at Oklahoma, he started a lot I'm sure in high school and he came in with the mindset of he wanted to be the best he could possibly be for this team. When you have guys who work hard every single day and take in everything, there are going to a few mistakes here and there, but if they learn from it, they won't make the same mistake twice. They can be great players."
In the history of the NFL, a center has never won offensive rookie of the year, but that's OK, as offensive linemen aren't really the individual accolades type anyway.
As long as Humphrey and the rest of the Chiefs' offensive line keep playing the way it is, Kansas City will remain in the hunt for better hardware to come this February.