Did Steelers make a mistake passing on Creed Humphrey and Quinn Meinerz?

Creed Humphrey #56 from Oklahoma of the National Team during the 2021 Resse's Senior Bowl. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Creed Humphrey #56 from Oklahoma of the National Team during the 2021 Resse's Senior Bowl. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Steelers got the center they liked in the NFL Draft but did they make a mistake by passing on Creed Humphrey and Quinn Meinerz?

After Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement, we knew that the center position was going to be high on Pittsburgh’s priority list in the 2021 NFL Draft. There weren’t many quality options at the position in free agency this year, and the Steelers couldn’t have forked up great money for a center if they wanted to.

Because of this, many of them expected to go that route with one of their first two picks in the draft. After Pittsburgh had secured running back Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick, many thought that they would be targeting a center in the second round. Creed Humphrey and Quinn Meinerz were the two best players available on the draft consensus board – a board that averages the prospect rankings of over a dozen draft analysts.

However, when they were on the clock with the 55th pick, Pittsburgh went a different direction – grabbing Penn State tight end, Pat Freiermuth. Considering the center position consisted of just B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenaur prior to the draft, this was an interesting move.

In round three, Pittsburgh finally nabbed the center prospect they had their eye on. Illinois interior offensive lineman, Kendrick Green tested as an incredible athlete and likely has his best football in front of him. But did the Steelers make the right choice passing on both Creed Humphrey and Quinn Meinerz?

Did Steelers miss out on the top centers?

While Green may have been the offensive lineman the Steelers wanted all along, it doesn’t refute the fact that both Humphrey and Meneriz were ranked considerably higher on the consensus board. According to the consensus rankings, Pittsburgh could have gotten remarkable value out of drafting Humphrey with the 55th pick, and again with Meinerz at pick 87 overall.

Creed Humphrey was, in my opinion, the second-best center in the nation last season. Though he played in the Big 12 (a conference not known for its defenses), he was incredibly reliable in pass protection and one of the most consistent offensive lineman in the nation. He followed up a terrific senior season with a dominant showing in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl.

Quinn Meinerz had a few more questions that needed to be answered. Though he tested as an incredible athlete at the center position, he was a guard for Wisconsin-Whitewater, and his team opted out of the 2020 season. However, the Division III prospect was thoroughly impressive at the Senior Bowl as well. While his technique isn’t as refined as a player like Humphrey, he’s a bully in the run game and he had no issues anchoring against the best seniors in the nation.

This brings us back to Kendrick Green. Admittedly, I didn’t watch as much film on Green as I should have prior to the draft, and I thought the Steelers missed out on an opportunity to grab Humphrey in the second round, and again with Meinerz in the third. However, we are going to have to trust the process on this one and hope that the Steelers did their homework.

After taking a deeper dive into Green’s film, there is a lot to love. His speed, quick feet, and physicality are evident on tape. Unfortunately, he’s not the most polished offensive lineman at this point, and he will need to make the transition to center full-time in the NFL – a spot where he played sparingly at Illinois.

My biggest fear with Kendrick Green is that he may already be maxed out physically. At just 6’1 7/8”, Green is very undersized for his position, and I’m not sure if he can carry much more weight than the 305 pounds he currently has on his frame. Size matters less for the center position than it does for tackles or guards, so this shouldn’t be a major issue, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

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We will have to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Kendrick Green, but I hope the Steelers don’t regret passing on both Creed Humphrey and Quinn Meinerz when they were able to get them at great value. Perhaps Green could end up being the best of the three, but it will likely take us a few years to find out.