The Bengals would be very wise to take a center early in this year’s NFL Draft.
This is clearly the team’s biggest weakness right now, and thankfully, there will be several centers worthy of a late first or early second-round pick.
Among them is Ohio State’s Billy Price, who was once regarded as the top center in this draft, not to mention a lock to go in Round 1.
However, a partially torn pectoral muscle suffered at the combine is threatening to keep him from being the first center taken and may knock him into Round 2. Even so, the Bengals are keeping tabs on Price, and they’ve already met with him ahead of the draft.
Prior to the draft, Price went to Indianpolis for medical rechecks on his injured pectoral. According to SB Nation’s Alexis Chassen, the recheck went very well.
Price went back to Indianapolis for the combine recheck at the end of last week and told SB Nation, “Recheck went excellent, I’ll be cleared by June from my surgeon.” He also said the doctors at the recheck were surprised with how quickly he’s recovering, and more importantly, that he “did not lose muscle mass” in his left side.
If Price is in face cleared to work in June and be ready for the start of training camp in late July, that bodes well for him hearing his name called in Round 1, possibly by the Bengals. When healthy, he’s the best center in this draft.
If you’re keeping track of the SB Nation NFL Writer’s Mock Draft, Cincy Jungle went with Price as the Bengals’ first-round pick. While NFL Draft guru Dan Kadar likes the pick, he does think Iowa center James Daniels is also a good pick here, especially if Price’s injury leads to him missing part of his rookie season.
This pick is fine as long as you assume Price won’t miss any part of his rookie season. But if you think he’s going to start the season on the physical unable to perform list, or even short-term injured reserve, you just can’t take him in the first round. That’s because James Daniels of Iowa grades as the 1B to Price’s 1A. Unless you really love Price from a scheme fit, Daniels is a pro-ready athlete who specializes in destroying defensive players in space.
That couldn’t be more true. The last thing the Bengals need right now is another first-round pick that doesn’t make an impact as a rookie due to an injury slowing his progress too much.
If the Bengals think Price is going to open the year on PUP, they need to find someone else at 21.