Kansas City Chiefs Load Up On Offensive Linemen, Including Creed Humphrey, During NFL Draft
To help protect their best asset — Patrick Mahomes — the Kansas City Chiefs have added eight new offensive linemen this offseason. That includes Lucas Niang and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out of the 2020 season because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It also includes their 2021 NFL Draft. The Chiefs spent two of their six selections — 63rd overall pick Creed Humphrey and 226th pick Trey Smith — on offensive linemen.
“It’s going to be an extremely competitive offensive line room, and there’s going to be a lot of depth there,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. “We have a lot of talent there now.”
Because there’s so much talent, training camp battles are sure to be very competitive.
But it looks like the 6-5, 320-pound Humphrey is the favorite to start at center over Austin Blythe.
“With Creed coming in here, needless to say, now you feel good about leaving Thuney where he’s most comfortable, and that’s at that guard position,” Veach said. “And Creed now gives you a bigger center option, and we had been talking about that.”
When Blythe was signed, most assumed he would be starting at center, but his contract — a one-year, $990,000 deal — is very affordable even for a backup, and he’s played guard too.
He played both guard and center at Iowa from 2013 to 2016. And Blythe started at right guard in 2019 before starting all 16 games at center for the Los Angeles Rams in 2020 after an injury to Brian Allen.
“Austin has shown that he can come in and play,” Veach said. “He’s done that over his career and shown that he can do it at a high level.”
Humphrey played at a high level at Oklahoma. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid praised Humphrey’s size, smarts, quick feet, work ethic, size and that he can snap with either hand.
Perhaps most impressively, Humphrey, a second-round pick, didn’t surrender a sack on his 1,297 pass plays at Oklahoma, according to Pro Football Focus.
Humphrey started 37 games for the Sooners but redshirted his first year when Orlando Brown Jr. played on the Oklahoma offensive line.
Following his trade to Kansas City, Brown even told Reid that the Chiefs should “take a peek at” Humphrey in the draft.
“I’m really close with Orlando,” Humphrey said. “He’s really helped a lot. He’s mentored me a lot at my time at OU. So being able to be on a team with him, I’m really excited.”
The Chiefs likely will start two Oklahoma players on their offensive line. Brown, of course, was the signature acquisition of late for the Chiefs.
An extremely affordable blind-side protector for Mahomes, Brown is in the last year of his four-year, $3.5 million rookie deal that expires after the 2021 season.
To retain the talented tackle, the Chiefs will have to reward him with a contract around $20 million a year.
“We have some different things that we’re working through. We had great dialogue with him and his agent before the trade,” Veach said. “He has all those attributes you look for — the size, the length, the mental toughness, the durability, the leadership. It’s hard to find that.”
Because of Brown’s skillset, the Chiefs traded their first-round pick as part of a package to acquire him.
But even the last pick of their 2021 draft, Smith, could help the team.
The 6-6, 335-pound Smith missed time during both his freshmen and sophomore campaigns due to blood clots in lungs, but he went on to start 23 games his next two seasons at Tennessee.
The Chiefs’ doctors cleared him. And if healthy, the sixth-round pick could represent a draft steal.
“We feel really comfortable and confident that we’re getting a good young man,” Chiefs director of pro personnel Tim Terry said. “They did a lot of research, a lot of work, did all the due diligence and searching out everything from his medical history standpoint.”
At the very least, Smith should add even more depth, which will be crucial as the NFL goes to a 17-game season for the first time in its history.
“We talked about multiple times: 17-game season now, long preseason and hopefully an extended playoff appearance for us,” Veach said. “We need all the help we can get.”
During the offseason and especially the last 10 days, the Chiefs have bolstered their offensive line. As a result, they’ve turned what was one of the team’s few weaknesses last year — especially after injuries struck Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher — into a strength.
“We’ve got this great competition that will take place,” Reid said. “That brings out the best in all of us.”