The Bengals have drafted Ohio State center Billy Price with the 21st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. That is a lot of value put into drafting a center, but will Price be able to live up to the hype?
This is a position the Bengals obviously had to fill after Russell Bodine left in free agency. The Bengals managed to fill it with a guy who will walk in on day one as an upgrade to what the has boasted in the last four years. And really, Price should be an upgrade over what the Bengals had for the last decade.
Price is dealing with a partially torn pectoral, but it’s expected to be healthy and healed by training camp, and actually before then.
NFL teams are being notified today that Ohio State OL Billy Price, who suffered an incomplete pec tear at the combine, is expected to be ready for training camp in July without restriction, per his doctor’s letter. pic.twitter.com/vYqmNlkUgu— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 25, 2018
What Price brings to the Bengals
Toughness: Price never missed a game at Ohio State. He started 55 straight games since joining the team as a freshman. Availability is something the Bengals liked about Bodine and it is something they will also get in Price. He should be ready for training camp after suffering a pectoral injury doing the bench press at the Scouting Combine. It was a freak injury after never suffering an injury that caused him to miss time in college.
“Getting ready for the bench press, I got into my warmup set, had no problem, no issues. Got the first rep off, got to the third, thought I was still doing well, felt a pop,” Price said after the injury. “Immediately racked it. Something didn’t feel right. I’ve been lifting since I was in the fifth grade. I’m familiar with my body and I try to be very aware of what’s going on. I didn’t feel something right. I grabbed it. Felt a little bit of swelling a little bit of a pop or a tingle... I’ll be fine for the season going forward and I should be fine going into training camp.”
Explosion: The one thing that sets Price apart from Frank Ragnow and James Daniels is the wildness he plays the position with. He has an elite initial charge off the snap and is able to gain leverage on the defenders pretty easily.
Solid foundation: Price isn’t a finished prospect. Their are aspects to his game that need to be cleaned up a little bit. But, the Bengals have a new offensive line coach in Frank Pollack who can help with that. He is still an elite level athlete possessing great athleticism and strength. Those are things that are a lot harder to build up and come by. Price may not be the most NFL-ready center in this draft, but he could end up being one of the best in a year or two.
Why Cincinnati picked Price
Need: The Bengals didn’t pick Price purely out of need at the position, but the idea they would be okay with T.J. Johnson as a starting center just doesn’t make sense. They knew they needed to get Price, Daniels or Ragnow in this draft. They weren’t going to be able to get by hoping a mid-round prospect could develop into a top-talent starter.
Mean streak: New Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack has talked about how he wants the offensive line to attack more. He wants guys with a little bit of mean in them, and Price showed his mean and nasty ability plenty at Ohio State.
Versatility: Price played at both ceneter and guard at Ohio State, and while his fate seems more set as a center, it never hurts to have that ability to shift to guard in case of emergency.
Ragnow was gone: The Bengals just missed out on Ragnow went to the Lions right before the Bengals pick, so we will probably never truly know which one they preferred. The Bengals did still end up with a very good center.
Playing with house money: The Bengals basically got their starting left tackle in Cordy Glenn and starting center in exchange for the 12th overall pick. When you look at it that way, it makes it hard to argue with what Cincinnati did and how well they’re leaving Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Onto Day 2, friends!