Billy Price came to the Cincinnati Bengals with high hopes, and equally high expectations.
When the Bengals made Price the 21st selection of the 2018 NFL Draft, all of the experts agreed that Cincinnati had made the right choice. Luke Easterling of Draft Wire summed it up best when he called Price “a polished, plug-and-play starter at either guard or center.”
Of course, every Bengals fan knows that things did not quite turn out that way.
Price, in fact, came into the 2018 season as Cincinnati’s starting center. Despite suffering a torn pectoral muscle at the 2018 NFL Combine, Price came back in time to start the first two games before a foot injury forced him to miss the next six. He was back in the starting lineup in week 10 and finished the season as the Bengals’ starting center.
Even so, Price’s rookie season was underwhelming, to say the least. He finished with a grade of 55.6 from Pro Football Focus, which also happens to be the highest mark of his career - for what that is worth.
Trey Hopkins took over as the Bengals’ starting center in 2019 and Price was moved to guard. Although he played in all 16 games, he started just eight - seven at right guard and one at left guard. At times, Price looked at least serviceable. At other times, he was just plain bad.
Against the Los Angeles Rams in week 8, Price received an overall grade of 22 from PFF, and a pass-blocking grade of 1.6 - on a scale of 100.
Price made only one start in 2020, a victory against the Tennessee Titans, but seemed to make some strides in the right direction. PFF credited Price with 208 snaps played on offense, mostly at guard, and only one sack allowed. He was also flagged for four penalties.
Without a doubt, 2021 is the make-or-break year for Price. He has been reunited with offensive line coach Frank Pollack, who was instrumental in drafting Price in the first place. And now it is up to Price to prove that decision was not a mistake, and that he is something more than a bust.
“To be the anchor that I was drafted to be and be the person, the consistent piece…,” Price said of his goals for 2021. “It’s to show up day one and be who I was that Frank drafted.”