The Cincinnati Bengals are expecting Billy Price to be an immediate starter. Does Price have the skill set to handle the responsibilities of an NFL center?
The Bengals selected Billy Price, center from Ohio St., at 21 overall yesterday. Many analysts, including myself, had the Bengals taking center Frank Ragnow from Arkansas since he had become the best center on the board. However, after he was taken by the Lions one pick before, Price became the best center available. The Bengals decided to fill their biggest need with the best player available at that position.
Price should start for the Bengals from day one. He comes into the NFL with a skill set that should allow him to have success, even in his rookie year. Price had a storied career at Ohio State, which ended with him earning the Rimington Award for best center in the country. Ohio State often played against some of the strongest programs in the nation, so Price has experience against talented D-linemen. Let’s look at some of his biggest strengths and weaknesses transitioning from college to the NFL.
Price’s biggest strength is, well, his strength. Among all linemen, Price may be the strongest, was expected to destroy the combine’s bench press. Unfortunately, that exercise was where he partially tore his pectoral, but his strength is still evident. Price can physically overpower large interior linemen and should be able to match even NFL defensive tackles’ strength. Price’s power comes through on film very clearly and is nothing short of impressive.
Price combines his near-freakish strength with a drive to finish plays through the whistle, which is a fantastic combination. Even on the plays, I didn’t pull from Price’s video, he works tirelessly until the play is dead. Price will often give linemen who are already on the ground an extra push to make sure they stay down. He also will not detach from his assignment until the play is over. That kind of mentality is invaluable for an O-lineman and is hard to pick up in the NFL.
Price also has enough athleticism to work on pulls and handle himself in space. Price isn’t the same level of athlete as a guy like James Daniels from Iowa but has enough mobility to manage. At Ohio St., the Buckeyes ran a high number of different runs, including bootlegs, which required Price to pull and find his assignment on the run. Price was able to do this effectively in college and should continue to do so in the NFL.
Price’s biggest concern is his lack of patience on finding blocks. The ability to get a strong initial push is great, but that comes at the cost of occasionally exposing lanes to the backfield. In the NFL, defenders will be able to take advantage of Price if he lunges out of position early. They have the quickness and the recognition to beat Price on those mistakes. It isn’t a huge concern, but it will lead to some costly mistakes from time to time.
All in all, Price is an extremely reliable center who fits perfectly into the Bengals’ offensive line. The Bengals desperately needed a center, and Price can fill that hole. It is not the most exciting pick, but it is most definitely the right pick. Bengals fans should be as excited as Price is that Price is coming to Cincinnati.
The Bengals addressed their biggest need with Billy Price at 21 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Price looks to be a big upgrade over Russell Bodine and coaches are excited about his potential. Head coach Marvin Lewis and offensive line coach Frank Pollack spoke volumes about Price following the pick and now it’s time to see what he can bring to this Bengals line that desperately needs some help.