4 Chiefs players who have exceeded expectations so far this season

12:07 26/11/2021

High expectations for the 2021 NFL season necessitated that the Kansas City Chiefs find new contributors on both sides of the ball. Some fresh faces have buoyed them through the first 11 weeks of their schedule that have seen the team go from contender to pretender and back again.

Young talent is crucial to any team’s hopes of making the Super Bowl, and with their third consecutive appearance in the big game within reach, the Chiefs have relied on the impact made by these four players to get back atop the AFC West:

C Creed Humphrey

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Dominance on the offensive line was the Chiefs’ primary concern heading into this season, and their investments made in the offseason after their loss in Super Bowl LV have paid off in a big way. Humphrey has been the best center in the NFL this year, anchoring Kansas City’s offensive line with grit and tenacity that belies his status as one of the team’s youngest players.

If he can keep up the excellent play upfront, Humphrey could be an All-Pro selection as a rookie. He has outplayed even the most seasoned veterans on one of the most affordable contracts on his team’s roster. The NFL has never given Offensive Rookie of the Year awards to linemen, but he has a solid argument to be the first.

CB Rashad Fenton

AP Photo/Jeff Bottari

In his third year with Kansas City cornerback Rashad Fenton has come into his own as a lockdown corner, even if he isn’t as flashy as some of the other players in the team’s secondary. Fenton has been one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded defenders this season and for good reason. He has allowed 19 receptions on 29 targets, and though he hasn’t recorded an interception yet, a forced fumble against the Raiders got him in the mix creating turnovers to help the defense.

The Chiefs’ secondary has played an integral role in the team’s recent success, and Fenton has been right in the middle of the action since he played every defensive snap against Washington in Week 6. A few interceptions to round out his 2021 campaign would be nice, but the tight coverage he’s playing on the back end of the defense will continue being a benefit for Kansas City whether he manages to come away with the ball or not.

G Trey Smith

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Another rookie lineman who has punched above his weight this season is sixth-round pick Trey Smith, who might’ve been the steal of the 2021 NFL draft. Though experts had the two-time All-SEC first-team selection graded near the top of their big boards, a medial concern saw him fall to Kansas City in April, and they haven’t looked back since.

Keeping Patrick Mahomes on his feet has proven to be one of the most challenging necessities for success in 2021, and Smith’s effort upfront has made a huge difference for the Chiefs this season. He has developed into a fan favorite in just his first professional season, and with more time left to improve his game, the rookie could turn into an absolute monster on the interior of Kansas City’s offensive line for years to come.

LB Nick Bolton

AP Photo/Peter Aiken

One of the most hyped picks by the Chiefs in recent memory, fans were ecstatic when Kansas City selected the Mizzou to help shore up their linebacker corps. Bolton has made his presence felt in every game the team has played this season, leading the Chiefs in tackles with 79 through 11 weeks as a rookie. He also earned October’s Defensive Rookie of the Month award from the league.

Bolton is still adjusting to the pace of the professional game and has some work to do in employing effective coverage when the scheme necessitates he plays back, but his contributions against the run have made him one of the brightest stars on the team’s budding defense. If Bolton keeps up at the pace he’s on now, he could develop into one of the NFL’s most feared defenders in the next few years.

https://chiefswire.usatoday.com/lists/kansas-city-chiefs-creed-humphrey-rashad-fenton-trey-smith-nick-bolton-expectations-exceeded/

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