The Kansas City Chiefs received rave reviews for their 2021 NFL Draft class shortly after the official event was over, and the kudos continued to roll in as training camp got underway. Now halfway through the regular season, the Chiefs are hearing more of the same as their rookie class has turned in an excellent performance overall in ’21.
Pro Football Focus released their list of the 15 highest-graded rookies so far this season and the Chiefs have multiple players on the list, including two of the top four. Yes, that’s 50 percent of the best four rookies in the NFL. Of course, we all know such metrics a la PFF grades are imperfect, but it’s always nice to see further confirmation from a national level of what we’re watching week to week in Chiefs Kingdom.
The top overall rookie for this season is Creed Humphrey, the Chiefs starting center from Week 1. Humphrey was installed in the starting lineup from the very beginning of training camp and never looked back once the job was given to him. The Chiefs might have anticipated a bigger competition with Austin Blythe in the preseason, but Humphrey came into the league as pro-ready as they come after multiple years as a starter at Oklahoma, blocking for the likes of Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts.
Pro Football Focus loves some of the KC Chiefs rookies.
Humphrey was taken in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft as the latter of the Chiefs second-round selections and PFF says he’s been the highest-graded center all year. It’s an incredible value for the Chiefs.
However, if Humphrey’s value is impressive, it’s still nothing compared to the player who came in at No. 4 overall so far on PFF’s rankings in right guard Trey Smith. Like Humphrey, the Chiefs gave the job to Smith from the outset and he’s been a teammate up front with Humphrey ever since and hasn’t missed a game yet.
What’s amazing about Smith is that he’s a dominant mauler who should only get better—even much better—as time goes on given his incredible strength and work ethic. Yet he’s already an above-average starting guard who was found in the sixth round of the draft. If you can strike gold late on Day 3 like this, then you know you had a good draft class.
Beyond this, the Chiefs have to be pleased with what they’ve seen from Nick Bolton as well, a linebacker with more tackles than any other rookie so far in 2021. While he’s left off of this list of 15, he’s gotten better with each passing week and looks like the future of the MIKE position for the Chiefs.
As for the rest, Joshua Kaindoh and Noah Gray knew they would largely sit this season as developing players who were meant to blossom over time. The frustrating part for Kaindoh is that he’s presently on injured reserve, but Gray is growing into a more well-rounded player and could yield dividends down the stretch. The team’s other rookie, wideout Cornell Powell, is still hanging around on the practice squad.