The 2021 NFL Draft season is upon us and the first wave of free agency is now over. Now, scouts, coaches, and general managers will hit the road as all eyes will turn to the draft.
Among the 32 teams building their rosters to compete for the next Lombardi Trophy is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold 10 picks in this season’s draft -- including the No. 1 overall pick. The Jaguars are entering a new era under Head Coach Urban Meyer, and the 2021 draft will serve as a catalyst to the Jaguars’ rebuild moving into the future.
As we march closer and closer to April’s draft, we will look at individual draft prospects and how they would potentially fit with the Jaguars. Instead of looking at any negatives, we are going to look at what the players do well and if they could match what the Jaguars need at the specific role or position.
In this edition, we take a look at Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey, who was a first-team All-Big 12 player as a senior in 2020. Humphrey had an elite showing at Oklahoma's pro day earlier this month and has a case to make as one of the draft's best interior offensive linemen, but does he make sense for the Jaguars within the draft's first 50 picks?
Graded as a four-star prospect by 247Sports out of high school, Humphrey was one of the nation's top center prospects and as a senior before committing to Oklahoma over programs such as Alabama and Texas A&M. Humphrey then redshirted year one, but he didn't waste much time seeing the field afterward.
As a redshirt freshman in 2018, Humphrey started 12 games and was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as he anchored the center position on the nation's best offensive line. The Oklahoma offensive line was recognized with the Joe Moore Award, which is given to the best offensive line in college football each year. On an offensive line with four other future NFL players, Humphrey was arguably the best player.
Humphrey took his name to another level as a redshirt sophomore in a post-Kyler Murray offense. He started all 14 games and was voted by The Associated Press as a second-team All-American, even finishing as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded each season to college football's best center.
Humphrey started 11 more games in 2020, ending his Sooners career as an immensely experienced and accomplished leader for Oklahoma's offense. As a result of his final season, he was named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection.
What Creed Humphrey Does Well
It isn't very surprising to see that Humphrey has an extensive wrestling background once you watch him on the field. He is the epitome of a grinder in the middle of the offensive line, churning out tough effort block after tough effort block and competing until the whistle each time.
Where Humphrey wins as a blocker is with his upper body. He frequently is able to turn defensive tackles and leverage them away from the play, showing good core strength and flexibility. He has the type of superior upper body strength that makes it difficult for defenders to disengage from him once he is locked into their frame; when he got his hands on defenders, they were more often than not done.
Humphrey's instincts and football intelligence is also a big plus that showed up often in Oklahoma's offense. He was seamless in adjusting in changing targets to block, fluidity passing off defenders and taking on new blocks without losing ground. His eyes move quickly from defender to defender and he is rarely caught trying to play catchup with what the defensive fronts are throwing at him. As
Humphrey's athleticism didn't always show up on the field, but there were glimpses of him thriving in space. There is always a chance Oklahoma's offense limited him and his responsibilities as well. His pro day, which featured a 33-inch vertical jump and a 112-inch broad jump, showed rare explosiveness in a center and 4.46-second shuttle was nothing to ignore either. In the right scheme, Humphrey's timed athleticism could show up more frequently on the field and give the offense flexibility with their direction.
How Creed Humphrey Would Fit With the Jaguars
Humphrey has the instincts, smarts, experience, and strength to be a starter in the NFL from the jump. The issue in Jacksonville would be where he would fit into their offensive line room after the Jaguars elected to return all five of their starters from 2020 (and 2019). Despite this, there are reasons to be intriguing by Humphrey's potential fit with the Jaguars.
While Humphrey only ever played center for Oklahoma, he has the frame and strength to suggest he could also hold his ground at either guard position. Because of this, his fit with the Jaguars is actually an intriguing one despite the presence of Brandon Linder already at center.
None of the Jaguars' three starting interior offensive linemen -- Linder, left guard Andrew Norwell, and right guard A.J. Cann -- are under contract past 2022. Cann is a free agent after this season, and all three players are approaching their 30s. While the Jaguars like the current makeup of their offensive line, their interior players are aging and aren't guaranteed to be on the roster past Trevor Lawrence's first two seasons or so in the league.
Because of this, the Jaguars could justify Humphrey's fit rather easily. He can come in and compete with Cann for right guard while Ben Bartch backs up Norwell and Tyler Shatley backs up Linder. If he doesn't win the job in 2021, then the Jaguars already have their starter for 2022 when Cann's contract expires.
For a center to be considered a first-round prospect, they have to have truly special tape and the potential to become a Pro Bowler or All-Pro at the position. Humphrey may not be that type of prospect and shouldn't be considered at No. 25 overall, but he would be a logical second-round pick thanks to his experience, high floor, and elite athletic testing.
The Jaguars can make other picks to address more pressing immediate needs, but the offensive line is an overhaul just waiting to happen. Eventually, the Jaguars will need to start finding future pieces, and Humphrey's consistently strong level of play for Oklahoma over the last three years suggests he would be a worthwhile investment to be one of those pieces.
Jacksonville can't justify taking a center in round one by any means, but Humphrey is a good player who could grow into one of Trevor Lawrence's most important assets down the road if the Jaguars do opt to make Humphrey an early target.
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