In mid-May, Pro Football Focus dropped its annual “25 Under 25” list, including center Creed Humphrey for the second straight year. As far as Kansas City Chiefs go, Humphrey stood alone.
Among the Chiefs’ names not included were linebacker Nick Bolton and right guard Trey Smith. NFL.com did not make the same mistake with its “All-Under-25 Team,” which was published on Thursday.
Bolton, Humphrey and Smith were all included. “Around the NFL” staff writer Nick Shook praised all three in his writeup.
With the rise in popularity of sub packages, off-ball linebackers don’t get as much love as they once did. The Chiefs’ defense doesn’t receive as much attention as it deserves, either, leaving players like Bolton in the shadow of Patrick Mahomes . Regardless, Bolton has played like a seasoned veteran since he joined the Chiefs in 2021, ranking second in the league in tackles with a franchise-record 180 last season and making a massive play in Kansas City’s Super Bowl LVII victory.
There are two elite centers in the NFL right now. One (Jason Kelce) is returning for what might be his final season, and the other (Humphrey) is just getting started. Humphrey earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl last season, and I’m willing to guarantee it won’t be his last.
No surprise here. Smith has been excellent since he arrived in the NFL two years ago. The Chiefs have remained elite thanks, in part, to the pivotal draft picks that helped them rebuild their offensive line prior to the 2021 season. Of course, having Patrick Mahomes at quarterback helps, too. Smith was one of those picks in 2021 and, as a sixth-round selection (226th overall), he’s already exceeded expectations.
Maybe the most impressive fact about these three players is that Chiefs general manager Brett Veach selected none in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Bolton and Humphrey were selected five picks apart in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, while Smith was taken four rounds later. As Shook mentioned, Humphrey was named to the Pro Bowl — but he was also a second-team All-Pro.
When Humphrey and Smith age themselves out of consideration next season, the Chiefs should have two obvious candidates to be considered: 22-year-old cornerback Trent McDuffie and 22-year-old defensive end George Karlaftis.