The Bengals are hoping this is the year they finally get consistent production from their first-round pick.
With the 21st overall pick in this year’s draft, the team took one of the top offensive lineman in Ohio State’s Billy Price. Center was clearly was the team’s biggest weakness, and they hope it’s been addressed with a guy the Bengals hope will be a rock for their offensive line.
Price was once regarded as the best center in this draft, but that changed when he suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle suffered at the combine. He suffered the injury while on the bench press.
Initially, it looked bad enough to keep him out for all offseason workouts and part of the preseason. But right before the draft, Price’s doctors said he would be cleared for the first day of training camp.
Price has also been getting some light work in at OTAs, so it looks like he’s very close to being healed.
That’s great news for a franchise that’s gotten little-to-no production from first-round rookies since 2012. Last year, John Ross appeared in just three games and didn’t catch a pass.
In 2016, William Jackson missed the entire season with a pec injury. In 2015, Cedric Ogbuehi missed most of the season while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in college.
2014 saw Darqueze Dennard appear in 14 games, but he battled several minor injuries and rarely saw the field on defense.
Needless to say, the Bengals need to finally get a big impact from a first-round pick, and Price hopes he’s the one to buck the trend.
In an interview with The Athletic, Price spoke about the Bengals’ history of having first-round picks injured as rookies. He’s hoping to break the trend by getting and staying healthy for 2018.
“For me, the pressure is huge just on myself just because you’re representing a standard of excellence that comes with being a first-rounder, period,” said Price. “Given the history of the Bengals, the first-round picks, obviously I’m going to go against that, continue to stay healthy – get healthy I should say – get healthy with my pec and stay healthy throughout this process.”
As for the pec injury, Price is quite pleased with how much it’s healed over the last three months.
“Pec is doing great. I’m having no issues recovering right now,” said Price. “I think we are officially today 12 weeks out, so it’s huge. It’s been a drastic, drastic difference from the amount of strength that you have and how quickly your body recovers from it.”
If Price can stay healthy, he should start every game at center, which has consistently been one of, if not the Bengals’ biggest weakness in each of the past four seasons.
Price has yet to be cleared for on-field work, but the hope is he gets that clearance by the time training camp begins.