It’s no secret the Bengals have a major need at center.
Russell Bodine has consistently been a gaping hole along the offensive line, regardless of his supporting cast. His shortcomings were clear as day when the Bengals had great offensive lines in 2014 and 2015. Those same issues were painfully evident when the Bengals’ line regressed in 2016 before it become one of the league’s worst in 2017.
So, what better way to fix this issue than to spend a high pick on a center in the 2018 NFL Draft.
But saying all of this, could the Bengals actually upgrade the center position with the No. 12 overall pick?
While that seems awful high to do so, it appears to be something draft guru Rob Rang thinks is possible. In Rang’s latest mock draft, he has the Bengals taking Ohio State Buckeyes center Billy Price with the No. 12 pick.
12. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State: The Bengals raised some eyebrows across the league by firing respected offensive line coach Paul Alexander, but the reality is many of Cincinnati’s struggles on offense in 2017 can be attributed to poor blocking. Two interior linemen among the top 12 picks would be rare but not unprecedented. Price is considered a plug-and-play candidate at guard or center with the Bengals’ starter at the latter — Russell Bodine — a pending free agent.
Admittedly, I’ve not watched enough of Price to say if he’s even worthy of a top-20 selection, but looking at other experts, Mel Kiper has Price going 24th overall to the Panthers. Fellow ESPN draft expert Todd McShay has Price going 23rd to the Rams, which is about the range Price is going in every mock draft, so it’s probably fair to call this pick a reach.
Saying that, everyone thought it was a big reach when the Cowboys took Travis Frederick with the No. 31 pick in the 2013 draft, despite being projected as a Round 2-3 prospect. He was still viewed as the top center prospect that year, and while it appeared Dallas reached for him, they were rewarded by landing what’s become one of, if not the best centers in the NFL.
So, if the Bengals truly believe Price is the best center in this year’s draft, perhaps they should take him at No. 12 and not allow this position to be a crippling weakness any longer.