Even though most teams have only two preseason games, Pro Football Focus has graded each first-round draft pick from the 2018 draft.
The Bengals’ first round pick, center Billy Price who was selected with the 21st overall pick, was criticized by PFF in Preseason Week 1 for his run blocking; Week 2 was no different.
Here’s what PFF said about Price through two games of preseason football:
PICK NO. 21: BILLY PRICE, CINCINNATI BENGALS
2018 Preseason Grade: 56.4
Price’s preseason has been a tale of two halves so far, as he’s performed at a very high level as a pass-protector (82.0 pass-blocking grade) but struggled at times as a run-blocker (48.5 run-blocking grade). In two games, Price hasn’t allowed a single quarterback pressure on any of his 29 pass-blocking snaps, but he has been defeated on a six of his 18 run blocks. His offensive grade of 56.4 puts him 14th among the 16 rookie centers with at least 10 snaps in the preseason.
For reference, former Bengals center Russell Bodine earned a grade of 66.3 last year.
Price’s pass blocking, according to PFF actually improved from Week 1, but his run blocking was still egregious enough to drag his total grade down. Whether or not he actually “whiffed” on blocks like PFF claims is still up for debate, though.
Run blocking is not only more important for centers, it’s also more difficult. Pass protection schemes rarely isolate centers in one-on-one matchups with defensive tackles, but generating movement in the ground game against shaded nose tackles is crucial for the majority of the run game. This is where Price has struggled thus far, and his grade reflects this.
The fact that he ranks 14th out of 16 rookie centers, despite being the second one taken in the draft, is a little concerning, but he is not as bad as his 56.4 grade indicates. We are only two weeks into the preseason, so Price still has plenty of time to turn things around, and the sample size is too small to make any definitive statements. Not to mention, he has one of the best offensive line coaches in the game helping develop.
Price’s snapping issues are completely gone shows the kind of mental resolve he has, which is what attracted the Bengals to him in the first place. There is no doubt that he can turn things around before the seasoner opener on September 9th.