Next up, we’re turning to Alex Chassen of Land-Grant Holy Land, who is the co-managing editor of the site covering all-things Ohio State. She’s also a writer at Bleeding Green Nation, covering the Eagles - boooo (yes, I’m still mad about Jake Elliott and holding a grudge about it for no reason with Philly faithful).
So, let’s get to know the new Bengals center and how his career at Ohio State shaped him into a man ready to take over Russell Bodine’s job in Cincinnati.
Rebecca Toback: What do you think about the Bengals’ addition of Billy Price in Round 1 of the draft?
Alexis Chassen: I’m glad that his injury didn’t make him a Day 2 guy. Heading into the combine he was considered the top center in this year’s draft class, and then his pec injury derailed that a bit. Price is absolutely the kind of guy you want to get in the first round. He’ll be worth the four-year deal — and likely earn his fifth-year option — by snap count alone. The last few first-round offensive lineman out of Ohio State went on to take 100 percent (Taylor Decker) and 86 percent (Pat Elflein) of snaps their rookie season, so it’s safe to say that so long as the rest of his rehab goes smoothly, Price should quickly become the anchor of the Bengals offense.
RT: What was Price known for during his time at OSU? Other than being the team’s center, of course.
AC: Aside from his stellar play at both left and right guard, Price was known as a leader for the Buckeyes. He was a big role model for young players, instilling in them the type of work ethic it takes to be successful at a place like OSU -- and in NFL.
Price graduated with a Business Administration degree, and definitely took advantage of Ohio State’s commitment to preparing players for life after football. He was a part of the school’s Soles4Souls program in the summer of 2016, traveling to Jamaica in a community impact mission, and then taking a short internship at Nike headquarters in Oregon.
RT: What do you see as some of his strengths?
AC: Of course his leadership and work ethic are some of his biggest strengths, but I also think his dedication to facing problems head on will be a big factor in his NFL success. When he was injured at the combine, he didn’t just pack his bags and head home; he met with doctors and then finished his weekend talking to both teams and the media about the issue. He wasn’t hiding behind some smoke screen, hoping teams wouldn’t find out the true nature of the issue and how it would affect his draft stock. Instead, he stepped up to the podium and detailed his injury, recovery process, and what kind of timeline he was looking at. That kind of upfront honesty is refreshing in a league that continues to try and keep things under wraps.
RT: How about any weaknesses?
AC: It’s hard to say the pec injury is a weakness, but the Buckeye is certainly more vulnerable to additional injuries now that he’s suffered one. The good news, is that his rehab hasn’t shown any ligament damage or issues with the muscle, so the recovery should be much more “back to normal” than contribute to additional issues. Still, that’s a very important muscle group for an offensive lineman, and will be tested during the preseason.
RT: Immediately upon his arrival in Cincinnati he came off as a natural leader. Was that obvious at OSU, too?
AC: When Elflein went to the NFL last season, Price was the most senior lineman left, and took the responsibility of shifting over to center very seriously. The two-time team captain spent his offseason in the gym and film room, perfecting his craft, and encouraging his younger teammates to do the same. Winning the Rimington Trophy in 2017 for being the best center in the country is no small feat, especially with Price only having one year of experience at the position under his belt, but it was the time he put in outside of practice and team events that really elevated his game to the next level. Price will be just as committed as he puts in the work to become successful at the next level.
RT: 55 straight games played is no joke. Were OSU fans in disbelief to learn about his pectoral injury at the combine?
AC: It was definitely a surprise, but also understandable. Starting that many games consecutively and lining up for most of the offensive snaps was bound to take a toll on his body eventually. In the long run, his injury happening at the combine — rather than during rookie camp or OTAs — ultimately will help him see the field early on in his rookie season.
He’s already had the worst happen to him, and shouldn’t have to live wondering when he might sustain his first significant injury. The recovery process is also something that will help Price mentally prepare for making a smoother transition to the pros.