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Can Creed Humphrey Make the Leap to Stardom in Year Two?

Humphrey may become a household name at the center position in 2022.

Despite not having a first-round pick the Kansas City Chiefs had quite the NFL Draft in 2021. Last week, Nick Bolton was highlighted as the first Chief taken last year. He led the team in tackles and will look to improve even more this season. The selection of Bolton marked the beginning of a successful Brett Veach draft class.

The Chiefs had another second-round pick, too. With it, the team took a player who they knew would need to step in and start from day one.

Sep 7, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners offensive lineman Creed Humphrey (56) before the game against the South Dakota Coyotes at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Round 2, Pick 63: Creed Humphrey, Center, Oklahoma

His name is Creed Humphrey, and rumor has it that he's pretty good. The jokes started early and often, as he became a fan favorite among those who followed the band 'Creed.' The young center is more than just a fun name, however. 

Humphrey was fantastic at the University of Oklahoma, allowing zero sacks during his collegiate career. You read that right, zero sacks as a three-year starter for the Sooners. He was also selected Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2019 and 2020. That's important to remember, as it made it hard to believe when Humphrey dropped to the end of the second round. 

The Chiefs had a need at center, and the best center in the draft fell to them at pick 63. At the time, it seemed like such a great fit for both the player and the team. Would Humphrey’s success at the college level translate to the pros, though? The short answer is yes. 

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It was a smooth transition for Humphrey, and he was able to win the starting job at center before Week 1 of the season. He and quarterback Patrick Mahomes worked together on timing and Humphrey took control early as he earned the trust of teammates and coaches alike. 

Dec 16, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) prepares to take the snap from center Creed Humphrey (52) in the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite high expectations, Humphrey wasn’t going to be intimidated. In fact, he even outperformed that lofty bar. Many were hoping that he would be a serviceable starter as a rookie and be able to help protect Mahomes along the way. He was much better than serviceable, and people locally and nationally alike were taking notice. 

For example, Humphrey was selected to the mid-season Pro Football Focus All-Rookie team. He was selected to the mid-season All-Pro team as well. He was not only the best rookie center, but one of the best centers in the NFL overall. By the time the 2021 season came to a close, Humphrey’s final PFF rating came in at 91.8. He was the highest-graded center in the NFL and his Wins Above Replacement checked in at 0.55 — fourth among all offensive linemen. He trailed only Trent Williams, Joel Bitonio and Zack Martin in WAR. By many accounts, Humphrey was an elite offensive lineman in his rookie season.

What does Humphrey need to do to make that second-year jump? In all honesty, there isn’t much he can do to make a big jump in terms of play in year two. He just needs to maintain what he did in his rookie season. Of course, there are little things to work on here and there to improve his game, but sustaining this level of excellence is on the table.

Jan 8, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs center Creed Humphrey (52) at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If Humphrey’s game does improve significantly, and if he does make a big second-year jump, he will be in line to potentially be the best offensive lineman in the NFL. I don’t think any Chiefs fan would be upset if that potential scenario became a reality.

Humphrey took what he learned in college and then took his game to another level in his rookie season with the Chiefs. In order for Kansas City to have great success on offense again this year, Humphrey will have to be on top of his game. He should be up for the task and figures to continue playing at an elite level. If he does so, he could become a household name and fully cement his status as a star despite playing one of the most overlooked roles on the team.