On Wednesday, Pro Football Focus writer Ben Linsey published an article naming the NFL’s top centers. The Kansas City Chiefs' Creed Humphrey ranked second on Linsey’s list, behind the Los Angeles Chargers’ Corey Linsley and ahead of the Detroit Lions’ Frank Ragnow. Linsey said these three players comprised his elite tier of centers.
Humphrey — a second-round selection out of Oklahoma in the 2021 NFL Draft — wasted no time establishing himself as one of the NFL’s best centers. His 91.8 PFF grade led all centers last season, and his 0.55 Wins Above Replacement (PFF WAR) ranked fourth among all offensive linemen, behind only Trent Williams, Joel Bitonio and Zack Martin.
Humphrey made blocks like the one above look routine and rarely lost in the run game, earning negative run-blocking grades at a lower rate than any other player at the position. He was a home-run selection for the Chiefs.
There’s not much argument about it now. The Chiefs did indeed hit a “home run” when they took Humphrey in the 2021 NFL Draft — just one piece of the team’s single-season overhaul of the offensive line that put new starters at all five positions.
It’s funny how we didn’t see it coming. On April 8, 2021, I wrote the first of three 2021 offensive line projections for these pages.
Coming out of 2020, I believe the Chiefs intended for this to be a battle between last year’s starter, Austin Reiter, and third-year player Nick Allegretti. Some have suggested that Thuney’s signing indicated dissatisfaction with Allegretti’s play. I don’t. To borrow a draft term, I think the Chiefs simply saw Thuney as the best player available in free agency. He was also young enough to be signed to a long-term deal — and the signing had the additional benefit of opening up the camp battle at center.
I think they offered Reiter a contract in the same range as the one they gave Mike Remmers — one that might entice him to stay, but wouldn’t be out of line for a backup. Then it would be up to Allegretti — still with two years remaining on his rookie deal — to either win the job or become the backup. But Reiter likely said no — and now we have a very similar player (albeit with different strengths) to battle Allegretti for the starting gig.
I think Blythe’s experience will win out — but only by a small margin.
But of course... that’s not what happened. At all.
What is coming in 2022 that we’re not yet able to see?