KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The top rookies from the 2021 class are two Kansas City Chiefs players in a position that rarely gets its shine.
Offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith are both ranked in the top 5 in Pro Football Focus’s top rookies of the year with Humphrey at no. 1 and Smith at fourth.
Humphrey’s play is warranting many to campaign for him to be named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
With both coming from big-time college programs (Humphrey from Oklahoma, Smith from Tennessee), Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck said they’re miles ahead of where most rookies usually are.
“Creed in there at the center position, kind of quarterbacking the O-line, he’s been outstanding, operating at a veteran level from the get-go,” Heck said.
“Trey has done a great job at being a physical presence in there. Getting after guys physically and then showing some improvement as a pass protector and a run blocker.”
Humphrey ranks as one of the top pass-blocking centers in the league while Smith and fellow guard Joe Thuney rank as two of the top pass-blocking guards.
With tackle Orlando Brown Jr. ranking high in run blocking, Heck said he’s come a long way since he arrived in Kansas City.
“I’ve really been pleased with how he’s worked and progressed every day, every week. He’s a football guy, he loves football, he wants to be great so you can work with that,” Heck said.
“There’s an element of learning the offense, and there’s so many little details, angles, this, that, the other, communication. It takes time to pick these things up. It’s not just Orlando but across the board. That’s what’s happening with these guys. They’re grabbing on to some of these things.”
Some fans praise tackle Andrew Wylie’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders since his primary opponent, Maxx Crosby, didn’t come away with a sack. But Crosby still had 13 pressures and won almost 50% of his pass rushes.
Heck said Wylie won some and lost some of those battles, but what matters is that he kept fighting.
“He had a great challenge in working against an old teammate, a very good rusher and he went out there and battled,” he said.
“The thing I was most pleased about was ‘OK, he got me on that one,’ and he came right back and then put together a great snap against him. That’s one of the things I love about Andrew.”
Wylie and the rest of the O-line will be tested this week with the Dallas Cowboys coming to Arrowhead Stadium.
Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is also one of the top rookies in the NFL and is top 15 in the league with 15 quarterback hits along with having seven sacks and 28 pressures; edge rusher Randy Gregory isn’t far behind him with 11, but he’s on injured reserve.
The next sack leader behind Gregory is interior lineman Osa Odighizuwa with two.
With the Dallas rush a bit depleted, the Chiefs may have more time to throw the deep bombs that Patrick Mahomes likes.
But they may stick with last week’s game plan that worked against the Raiders: quick passes, screens and dink and dunk down the field with the occasional deep bomb.