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The New York Jets First Pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is Creed Humphrey Center, Oklahoma

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Size, power, quickness and intelligence

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Baylor vs Oklahoma Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Creed Humphrey announced that he is returning to school and will not be entering the 2020 NFL Draft even though he had a good chance to be selected in the first round. Actually Creed has two years of eligibility left so there is no guarantee he will be in the Draft pool in 2021 either.

Creed Humphrey is sort of a legend in in Oklahoma. He was always a big kid, and when you are from Shawnee High School in the middle of the state most football fans hear about you. It was kind of a shock when Humphrey first committed to Texas A&M, but that didn’t keep the folks at the University of Oklahoma from trying to still recruit him.

When he decided to flip his commitment to stay in his state, the locals were happy. Once Creed got to OU he did not disappoint, even as he redshirted his freshman year. The Sooners had starting center Eric Wren (5th year senior) returning so there was no need to waste a year of Creed’s eligibility. Humphrey was still getting 1st and 2nd team reps in practice. Being 6’ 5” 315 lbs people figured he was amazingly strong, they weren’t wrong.

When he first came to the OU campus as a true freshman he wowed many veterans with his talents in the weight room. The first day he was officially on the team he was already one of the strongest players at OU. He was bench pressing over 400 lbs and squatting over 600 lbs as a 18 year old.

Neville Gallimore is an Oklahoma defensive lineman and Creed’s lifting partner in the weight room. “Some of the stuff I saw him doing in the weight room, even coming in, I was shocked,” Gallimore said. “I’m one of the stronger guys in the weight room, too, but to see him throw up weight like it’s nothing is incredible. He’s definitely showing it on the field, too. So whatever he’s doing or whatever his parents are feeding him at home is paying off.”

“He’s country-fed,” fellow center Jonathan Alvarez said. “Corn-fed. It’s that big, natural strength. In the weight room and on the field, he does stuff that I probably couldn’t do my freshman year and I can do now. To see him do it, too, I’m like, ‘Wow, I wonder what he ate growing up?” “I’d say he was a little beyond (his years), It’s difficult for everybody when you first get here, learning the system. It’s different, so you definitely saw that at first. He learned to deal with it and cope with it and got over it really fast.“

His offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh agreed, “He’s as good at this point as everyone I’ve ever coached physically.” Considering Bradenbaugh has coached the likes of Daryl Williams (Panthers), Tyrus Thompson (Vikings), Orlando Brown (Ravens), Cody Ford (Bills), Bobby Evans (Rams), Dru Samia (Vikings) and Ben Powers (Browns), that is quite high praise. But Bedenbaugh added, “He was when he walked in,” which is even higher praise.

When 2018 started there was going to be a battle for the starting center job between Humphrey and Jonathan Alvarez (a 5th year senior) which delighted the coaches. “It’s going to be a fun battle to watch,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “Not many people have one good center, and we have two. It’s a big-time luxury.” Humphrey won the battle; he won over his teammates too.

Starting tackle Booby Evans saw it also, “Creed, he’s a monster,” Evans said. “That dude, he’s so athletic.”

Yet coming into a spread offensive from high school would a daunting task for a college transfer, much less alone a kid right out of high school. Still Humphrey was a hard worker and a 4.0 student in high school.

Bradenbaugh noticed that also, “I think it’s a mentality, first of all,” he said. “I think he wants it. He wants to be really good. He works at it.”

It’s always a work in progress for Creed. So in October of 2019 when people were singing the praises of the Sooners line after a 52 -14 beatdown of West Virginia Creed was quite to point out the work ahead.

“We’re not even close to our peak,” he said. “We’re not satisfied with what we’ve done so far, I don’t think anyone around here thinks they have everything figured out. Everybody still believes we can do everything better.”

The only thing that Creed was satisfied with was the fact that an underdog Shawnee beat favored Muskogee the Thursday before 32-29. “I saw that. It was exciting,” Humphrey said. “I like to keep up with the coaches. I text them, and they text me. I was really happy for coach Brown because it was his 200th career win. He’s a great coach and person.”

You never forget your roots, if Creed keeps getting better folks in Shawnee will never forget him.

In his first season of playing in 2018 as a redshirt freshman Humphrey was near awe-inspiring. The Sooners assistant head coach for offense, Shane Beamer, chuckles when he talks about watching head coach Lincoln Riley as he reviews game film of Humphrey. “I know it’s funny to say, but he really was almost giddy. He will lean up in his chair and say, ‘Did you see what Creed just did, that block he just made?’” said Beamer. “He’s been a man for us there in the middle this season.”

“He’s been a game-changer for us,” Riley said. “He’s probably the biggest difference from this year comparing all the other lines from previous years. He’s a dominant center, and you don’t come across those very often in coaching. It’s just a difficult position to do it, especially to do it as a freshman the way he’s done it. He’s been huge for our growth and made us tougher to defend.”

Let’s see what Lincoln Riley is talking about.

When scouting Humphrey you can easily see the strength, movement skills, and ability to control things around him. Yet watching him play in a spread offensive system makes it more difficult to grade him compared with pro style systems. Spread systems can have wider splits. Many times they don’t require the player to hold his blocks very long either. Creed usually does a great job. It is just a different way out grading out a lineman.

Here against Texas he has a man on his nose in this running play. In a pro system the nose tackle would be Humphrey’s man by himself or double team. Yet Oklahoma’s scheme is a little bit different.

You see Creed has the initial block, he does a nice job of moving him off the line then turning him. Yet he then hands off the block to the left guard and moves to the 2nd level to pick up the middle linebacker. Both men Humphrey blocks never make it close to the play, but he didn’t have to hold either block very long.

In the NFL if the left guard needs to block the nose guard he would use a reach block while the center made his way to the 2nd level. The center may have a cursory block on the nose guard, but he would need to make it to his 2nd level block quickly. NFL linebackers don’t wait around to be blocked. They are on the move at the snap.

This next play is a quarterback draw that Humphrey is not covered on so he is free to roam. You can tell it is a designed QB draw because the linemen are just looking to wall off their men. The RB #26 goes out as to be a safety valve but just ends up blocking the safety. He never turns around to look for a pass.

Humphrey drops back as if to pass block then comes up to secure the path to his left. He picks up the inside linebacker, secures the block, and moves him out of the way. The ILB doesn’t spin free until Jalen Hurts is long gone. Creed almost always does a great job of securing the block and turning his man away from the play. That shows great grip strength with the hands along with impressive upper body strength. This skill may come from his wrestling background. He was the runner up in the state finals in Oklahoma.

Humphrey’s father (Chad) was a 3 time wrestling All-American at Central Oklahoma. Creed was on a wrestling mat when he was 4 years old. “There’s nothing like the mentality of a wrestler and learning how to use leverage as a wrestler transitions perfectly to football,” said Creed. When he was playing in the Big XII championship in 2018 his wrestling tights from when he was 9 years old showed up on camera. “I still catch a lot of grief about that,” Humphrey said.

This next play the roles are reversed from our first play as Humphrey is uncovered on the running play. The guard is now the man who needs to pick up a block on the 2nd level. Here Humphrey show great movement skill for such a big man to get over into position to make and maintain his block while the guard secures the 2nd level block.

You can see the wall that is made with all the blocking, the RB isn’t even close to being touched until he is over 5 yards downfield. Also watch the feet of Humphrey as he quickly gets into position. He is able to spin into great blocking position with perfect balance while he muscles his man away from the play. He doesn’t have to block long, but the quickness, balance, and strength are more than enough for a very effective block.

This next play against Houston is just an incredibly sudden demolition of a defensive tackle on a play as you will ever see. The play is just a swing pass to a flanker who is in motion. Ut’s a variation of a jet sweep with just a further handoff than normal. Either way it allows a fast player to outflank a defense while getting him the ball with great momentum. It further makes the defense defend the length and width of the entire field. The next pass will be a deep seam or corner route to further stress the defense.

At the snap it is just a quick secure, turn and pancake. You can’t flip a flapjack as fast as that. That’s some impressive upper body strength to completely overwhelm a big man with speed. Creed also has great hike to block speed.

Humphrey has quick hands that get to the chest of the defensive player in an instant. From there he has overpowering grip strength he uses as he torques the player whereever he wants them to go. It’s very nice technique that is not easy to do. You need a highly developed skill set along with great power.

These next few plays are from the Peach Bowl against LSU in a game that Oklahoma was totally destroyed in. LSU has a great college defense with a lot of big boys they rotate in.

This play is one of the longer iso blocks I saw Creed Humphrey make while watching hours of tape. This block was against a 6’ 4” 354 lbs nose tackle who tries to press the pocket.

You can see that Humphrey drops back into pass protection his man never progresses farther than the point Creed drops his anchor. Humphrey is also able to keep his man at arm’s length far away from his QB. The one major thing I have concern with Humphrey is his length. He doesn’t appear to have long arms, which could be a problem in the NFL. Length can be king in the trenches, and there are many players defensive lines who can scratch their knee without bending over. I am just kidding about that, but length can be a major advantage if you have it and a huge detriment if you don’t. We will need to see the tale of the tape at the NFL Combine.

This next play uses a very complicated blocking assignment so I will use the coaches film to illustrate it. This play is designed to go through the middle even though the blocking is making it look like a student body left sweep. Oklahoma pulls its right tackle and guard, pulling them left in an attempt to make the defense over commit.

The thing to notice on this play is how smooth and easy Creed Humphrey moves. He is not labored at all and if you didn’t know better he moves like a 240 lbs linebacker instead of a 315 lbs 6’ 5” center. Also see in these plays he doesn’t have to maul every player during the block. He just makes the play whatever it calls for and gets the job done.

This next play shows some of the movement skills Creed has. Not many college teams pull their center to be a lead blocker on a play designed to go around the edge, but Oklahoma does. You can see why with the wheels he has on this play.

The linebackers react fast to the play as Humphrey picks up a block on the right inside linebacker, stoning him cold until Creed dumps him then seeks more blocks downfield. At 6’ 5” 315 lbs Humphrey ran an impressive sub 5.0/40 in the preseason at Oklahoma. Finding then finishing a block in the open field by huge offensive linemen is difficult for many young players. In this case the linebacker was trying to shoot the gap, but Humphrey was right there to stop him. The defender kind of found him instead of the other way around. If Humphrey can get to a block he usually make a quality play. Sometimes just getting in the way of a defender works when on the run.

This next play is that exact type of block. It is on the 2nd level. This is not the kind of block that makes a highlight reel. The play is a quarterback draw. The Bruins are playing a 4-3 defense so Creed is uncovered, and his man to get is the middle linebacker. On this type of play you want your offensive linemen to drop back in pass blocking mode to simulate the pass. If done correctly, as the defensive linemen move upfield the offensive line will push them outside so the QB can just move upfield untouched.

The middle linebacker is Krys Barnes who is undersized at 6’ 1” 235 lbs but very quick. He is a hard block for a big burly offensive lineman to muscle around. So Creed does the next best thing. He waits for the LB to pick a direction then Humphrey just makes him keep that way by not allowing him to get around.

Jalen Hurts see this then just cuts off Humphrey’s backside into the clear. When the safety goes to the same side as the MLB he essentially takes himself out of the play. It leaves no one home in the middle of the field which allows Hurts to have a 30 yards rushing TD while being untouched.

Humphrey uses many subtle blocks like this that are just as effective as a pancake block. The job of the offensive lineman is to make an effective block that allows the players with the ball the freedom to avoid defenders. This type of block does the trick.

This next play Humphrey’s job is to seal the backside of the play as the offense is pulling both the left guard and tackle. Creed has to quickly get out of his stance after hiking the ball and take out the “3” tech before he gets to the RB and ruins the play.

Humphrey uses those quick feet of his to easily get in position in time to stop the “3” tech and push him beyond the RB. As luck would have it, the defensive end is right on his cohort’s back so Creed is able to effectively block two men with one block. This is done with quickness and good hands along with sufficient power. The double block was admittedly more good fortune than by design.

These last two plays were from the last game of the 2018 season when Creed Humphrey was a redshirt freshman. This was from the Orange Bowl in Miami against Alabama. The player who Humphrey has to block is #92 Quinnen Williams, who is well known to Jets fans. This first play is a 2nd and 2 play. It is just a power off tackle run trying to pick up a 1st down. Oklahoma wants to use its strength which is its offensive line (voted best in college football in 2018) to slow down the ‘Bama rush and control the line of scrimmage.

This is a nice battle as Williams get better leverage by staying low. (This he did often in his college career.) This stands Humphrey up as Williams gains the advantage then pushes him into the offensive backfield. Yet as Williams looks around Humphries to find the ball carrier Creed uses his immense upper body strength to regain control. He then is able to push Williams into the mosh pit of players 3 yards from the original line of scrimmage. He shows his own power to bench press an All-American defensive tackle back 5 yards.

That was a nice play that showed some of the individual strengths of each player.

This last play is one of the longest blocks I watched Humphrey make in any of the 5 games I reviewed. Again it shows the positive traits of both players as they fight for position.

Like the first play Quinnen gets the initial advantage, but Humphrey fights back with impressive power to keep Williams from getting loose. He eventually gets turned in front of Williams to make sure he doesn’t make it into the play.

This was basically a stalemate as this is a stretch off tackle play. This kind of play would be difficult for any nose tackle to make a play unless he was unblocked. Williams kept good position in case the runner was to cut the play back inside, and Humphrey did what he was supposed to do. It was a nice 10 yard run by the offense. Williams held his own, and so did Creed.

Summary

I still have some more tape to watch on Creed Humphrey, but I think I have seen all I need to see. Humphrey is a young (will be 21 years old in June) center prospect with strength and power in both upper and lower body. He has very very good balance which may stem from his wrestling background. He has great hands and gets into the chest of his opponents almost at will. He has super grip strength in his hands and is quick from snap to block. He is smart (2nd in his high school class) with speed and very quick feet for a big (6’ 5” 315 lbs) player. He is a hard worker who is liked by his teammates and coaches alike. He could play in any blocking scheme, even zone and be an above average player in the NFL. He has solid character from a good family.

He is not a finished product, but no 21 year old kid who comes into the NFL is. I know he has speed, but I would like to see his length. If he has shorter than 33 1/2” arms he could have problems with the leviathans who live on the defensive line in the NFL. I would also like to see how he does in some agility drills which show better side to side quickness. I think he has enough lateral quickness, but he is not near a Jason Kelce type agility.

What is not to like about this kid?

Right now I have a low 1st round grade on Creed so we will see how well he progresses or regresses in the upcoming season.

What do you think?