If you didn’t think the Kansas City Chiefs were serious about protecting franchise quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the last week has cemented their sudden philosophy to stack the offensive line with talented players.
With the 63rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Chiefs selected former Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey. As pumped as you the Chiefs fan were to further improve the offensive line, Humphrey was more excited that Kansas City was his next destination.
“I knew what kind of organization I could get into if I came here, so as soon as I got that call, I was so excited,” Humphrey told reporters in a Zoom call late Friday night. “I got the call from the best organization in the country, so I was just so excited and so relieved. Now I’m just so ready to get to work.”
Humphrey automatically raises the floor of how well the interior offensive line can play in 2021 and beyond. He’s been a center through his entire college career, but Chiefs head coach Andy Reid believes the rookie lineman has versatility in his position alignment.
“He can do either [guard position]; he’s a good athlete,” Reid shared with reporters in the Friday press conference. “He could probably play all three [interior line positions] if we have to go that route.
Reid continued describing his newest offensive lineman.
“Big kid that is extremely smart. The thing you’ll notice with him is he can snap with either hand... he’s best probably with his left hand, that’s his natural hand — but he’s taught himself to also do it with his right hand. Great feet and work ethic, and then just a big man; Creed should be a nice addition to that offensive line.”
Humphrey isn’t stubborn about staying at center; he wants to contribute in whatever manner he can.
“Wherever I’m going to be playing, I’m just going to go in there and compete,” he declared. “I’m going to push myself to get to the next level that I can and make myself better, and I’m also going to push the guys around me to get better. That’s all it is for me: getting the team better in every way possible, whether it’s me or another person, it’s going to be me in there trying to push everyone and trying to get everyone to the next level they want to get to.”
Humphrey hit the key word: compete. Coach Reid believes the way general manager Brett Veach has addressed this offseason has led to a healthy, strong increase in competition.
“We got this great competition that will take place, and that brings out the best in all of us,” Reid believes. “Brett is going to do his job and he’s going to keep the competition high. Let’s not run from that, let’s attack it. What it’ll do — if you handle it right — is it brings out the best of you down the road. Embrace the competition, and keep on working to make yourself even better, and the team better. That’s what Brett has done with the offensive line: he’s just added some great competition in there.”
One offensive lineman that Humphrey won’t be directly competing against is another new addition: left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. The two attend Oklahoma together in 2017 and formed a relationship that has benefitted Humphrey’s NFL aspirations.
“I’m really close with Orlando,” Humphrey shared. “He’s helped me a lot. He mentored me a lot at my time at [Oklahoma University]. Being on a team with him: I’m really excited about it.”
Beyond the typical friendship between alums of the same school, Humphrey admires Brown and strives to be like him — on and off the field.
“The mentality that he has every day that he carries with himself, he’s going to go in there and do the work that is necessary to get him to the level he wants to be at,” Humphrey described. “When I got to OU, that’s something I admired right away from him when I met him. See him go in, work as hard as he can every day, work hard in the weight room, during training, during position drills or when we were doing stuff on our own. He’s such a mean player on the field too, that’s something I’ve always admired about it and I’ve always tried to copy my game after.”
The respect is mutual on both sides — apparently enough for Brown to vouch for Humphrey.
“Orlando told us to go get Creed,” Reid revealed. “He said there’s a good one at Oklahoma you need to take a peek at. We had already on our eye on him, but it was neat for Orlando to put it out there for us that way.”
The Chiefs may not exactly be sure on how they want to handle the starting five linemen, but I believe it makes the most sense for Humphrey to be plugged in as the starter right away. It’s a similar pick as Rodney Hudson in 2012 or Mitch Morse in 2015 — and Humphrey could follow the same path of owning the starting job for the entirety of their rookie contract.
The title won’t be handed to him though; free-agent signing Austin Blythe has NFL experience as a starter, and last year’s left guard Nick Allegretti was the backup center in 2019.
Even if the second-round pick doesn’t take reign on snapping immediately, he should be the long-term answer at center. With all these offensive line pieces under multi-year deals in Kansas City, the line looks to have strong, big-picture continuity — on top of more top-end talent.
Who starts for the Chiefs at center in 2021?
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