The Kansas City Chiefs are one of the top four teams in giving playing time to rookies this season, so it’s good to see at least one of their first-year performers making the list of the top 25 rookies in the NFL from analyst and former scout Daniel Jeremiah. However, we’re also wondering about the presence of some others.
Jeremiah recently wrote out his first quarter rankings as he sees them, and he’s quick to celebrate the excellent work turned in by Chiefs center Creed Humphrey. He lands at No. 5 overall, a pretty high spot for an offensive lineman as it is, but he’s the second one in the top five (after Rashawn Slater of the L.A. Chargers at No. 2).
In his brief blurb about Humphrey, Jeremiah references other rookies up front with Humphrey but he never names them later on the list. He writes:
"The Chiefs are starting three first-year players on the offensive line and Humphrey has been the most consistent of the group. He plays with outstanding balance."
Daniel Jeremiah’s rookie rankings is leaving out a significant Chiefs rookie.
Before we get to who was left off, it’s important to clap for Humphrey at this point because he’s been the revelation in the interior that the Chiefs have been lacking since the Buffalo Bills priced the Chiefs out of any ability to retain Mitch Morse up front in free agency back in 2019.
Humphrey was the latter of two second-round picks used by the Chiefs in the 2021 NFL Draft, and it was assumed that Humphrey might be able to earn starter’s reps if the competition with Austin Blythe went his way. Instead it was as if no competition was ever part of the plan. Humphrey held down the first-team reps with the offensive front since his arrival and that’s carried over into an excellent regular season.
As for the rest of the Chiefs rookies, there are several getting some playing time. Nick Bolton was the team’s first overall selection (albeit in the second round) and he’s turned in some nice reps against the run game. Unfortunately the Chiefs have also watched him struggle in coverage after being tasked with more than expected in the wake of Willie Gay’s toe injury.
The biggest snub on the list, and the one likely to have Chiefs Kingdom talking, is the lack of a mention for Trey Smith. If anything, he’s been the one to earn the most acclaim of the team’s three rookies starting up front, and the fact that he’s been such an impressive find from the sixth round makes it an even more compelling story. Smith has been a mauler at right guard and has given the offensive interior a major push together with Humphrey and free agent prize Joe Thuney. The Jets got two rookies named Michael Carter on the list but the Chiefs have two excellent starting linemen earning immediate reps but only one is mentioned. That’s off.
It’s also worth mentioning here that Lucas Niang has looked very good outside for the Chiefs through four games. While there are some consistency issues, he’s also learning a much more difficult job, has been away from the game for a year, and is going after tremendous competition in the early going. Niang’s strength is obvious, but he’s also showcased an impressive mental strength in being able to shake off any frustrations and move on to the next play while applying what he needs to learn week after week.
Other rookies have played for the Chiefs—notably defensive end Josh Kaindoh and tight end Noah Gray—but neither have made any contributions worthy of a mention by Jeremiah.