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Kansas City Chiefs 2023 Preview – The Offensive Interior

Today… We look at the interior of the offensive line

Kansas City Chiefs center Creed Humphrey (52) and guard Trey Smith (65) line up next to each other against the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 12, 2021 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photo by: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


This is all part of a multi-part series covering several areas of Kansas City Chiefs going into 2023; predictions on each units, The Secondary, Linebackers, The Edge and Interior of the Defensive Line, and the Offensive tackles covering different aspects in general. This will be a multi-part series covering several areas of offensive line play in 2023; Starting with the offensive tackles.

Entering 2023 there are many storylines for OL play around the Chiefs, but despite some concerning trends there is much more good happening, led by one of the NFL’s elite OL units that keeps reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes’ pocket clean. The OL is a team within the team, heavily reliant on one another for their own success, and together the lifeblood of an offense. The more experience the unit has together the better their performance, with non-negotiable traits such as mental processing and competitive toughness being at the forefront of the position. Despite the moves that have happened this offseason, this unit who have shown how great they were in 2022, and have the best chance of improving upon their success in 2023.

The Chiefs boast the best pass-protecting bookends in the NFL. Providing a QB like Patrick Mahomes, who has a strong propensity to scramble and evacuate the pocket, with a clean pocket can be challenging because of his tendency to move behind the line of scrimmage. The uncertainty surrounding the pocket can be frustrating for an OL, particularly OTs who are charged with creating the depth of the pocket. Having a QB who is unpredictable increases the challenge of sustaining a well-formed pocket, but the Chiefs OL boasts an experienced interior with LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, and RG Trey Smith forming a productive trio that works extremely well together and how in 2023 they will maintain their status as the top interior trio in the NFL?:

Creed Humphrey:

Creed Humphrey is an ultra-athletic center who excels at blocking in space and in the zone-run game. He’s the best player on the Chiefs OL unit. Humphrey is a throwback center who gets after people through the echo of whistle, possessing very good physical traits and measurables (6-5, 315) that he uses to control and sustain at a high level, particularly in the run game. Through outstanding technique in terms of playing balanced and in-control, Very few college offensive lineman remain cool, calm, and collected when they get in trouble on the field, but Humphrey was a master at it since 2021. According to Gordon McGuiness of PFF: “Humphrey has been in the NFL for two seasons and has earned elite PFF run-blocking grades in both years. He just edged Jason Kelce in PFF grade last season (89.9 to 89.4) and when factoring in age heading into the season, it’s a fair projection to have him above the Eagles great.” His technical proficiency has served as a rock-solid foundation for him as an overall player, and the results have translated to the center position. His display of crafty hand usage, mental processing, leverage, and the ability to pick his spots has lent itself to a rapid adjustment to being an All-Pro caliber center. Playing in the middle of Pro Bowl caliber offensive guards (Thuney and Smith) has certainly helped Humprhey with not having to worry about too much, and his strengths have shined thus far. 

Joe Thuney:

Thuney has carved out an incredibly impressive career thus far; now a three-time Super Bowl champion. There is simply nothing Thuney cannot do at a high level and he remains a rock on the most talented OL in football. Thuney had arguably his best season in his NFL career in 2022. Even though his snap total dipped under the 1,000 mark, he was highly efficient as he improved in regards to penalties, only collecting a pair and allowing just one sack yet again. At the conclusion of the regular season, he was named to his first Pro Bowl. Thuney makes up for his so called undersized build (under 6-5) with outstanding hand usage both in terms of his placement, but also independent hand usage and grip strength to sustain his blocks. The pad level in which he utilizes on a snap-to-snap basis is also excellent and paired with refined hand usage he is able to win most battles in the run and pass game. Thuney has good mental processing and very good awareness to ensure that he is dominating from a position of power. He can become overwhelmed with power rushes from elite-level players, but he puts up a strong fight because of how rarely he falls off blocks. His competitive toughness translates into consistently finishing and playing through the whistle.

Trey Smith:

Trey Smith’s presence has elevated the Chiefs OL and entire offensive identity to an even more physically punishing unit. Smith paired now with RT Jawaan Taylor on double blocks and C Creed Humphrey on ACE blocks, should generate a more overwhelmingly effective, powerful, and nasty front, setting the tone for the offense both in the run and pass game. Smith wins with a strong, consistent base that serves as the foundation in all of his movements both in the run and pass game. Rarely is he caught off-balance and even when he is, there is plenty of athleticism, short area quickness, and coordination to recover. Smith’s hand usage is also very nasty where his ability to create leverage at the point of attack is very good. His size (6’5”/330 pounds) along with his hand placement and his grip strength, contribute to his elite ability to latch onto defenders at the point of attack allowing him to sustain those blocks for an unusual length of time. Once Smith detects an opposing defensive lineman coming his way, he charges his feet, leverages his hands, aligns his hips and elbows, and uses the D-lineman’s momentum against themselves to gain leverage. Coupled with Smith’s ability to create immense power through his hips and hands, the finish usually results in the opposition having a 330 pounds man of brute force burying them in the ground. Smith should earn his first All-Pro selection in 2023.

Key Backup: Nick Allegretti

Nick Allegretti, now a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Chiefs, has played in 57 games since entering the league as the team’s own seventh-round draft pick back in 2019. 12 of those games have been starts, and the player who left Illinois as primarily a center prospect has since spent time at center and both guard spots for Kansas City over the course of his four-year career. According to Pro Football Focus, 2021 was his best season, as he had a 70.4 offensive grade with a terrific 89.0 grade as a pass blocker. Allegretti is a realiable center/guard who is excellent at pulling and blocking in space, gradually improving his hand usage and placement in pass protection during his time with the Chiefs. Maybe we can get some more Big Man Touchdowns soon.

Under the Radar: Jerome Carvin

Sixty games with 43 starts across five years, 21 starts at left guard, 17 starts at right guard, and five starts at center. Trey Smith and Wayne Morris’ college teammate Jerome Carvin’s résumé coming out of Tennessee made him one of the most versatile prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, he went undrafted but that didn’t stop Chiefs GM Brett Veach from signing him to a UDFA deal. He has the length (33” arms) and the athleticism to be a swing tackle or become a future starting interior offensive lineman for the Chiefs. Carvin has to clean up his footwork and aggressiveness in pass protection, but he has the athleticism, raw power, and tenacity to be a starting guard for a long time.

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