Why the Cincinnati Bengals should move Billy Price back to guard
While the Cincinnati Bengals continue to rack up injuries, the return of Billy Price is welcome news for fans.
With news breaking that 2019 first-round draft pick Jonah Williams will miss the entire upcoming season due to a shoulder injury, the Cincinnati Bengals flurry of first-round picks missing significant playing time in their rookie season continues. Williams was slated to be plugged into the left tackle position and anchor a line that has been struggling. With his injury, many fans and pundits alike are growing anxious that the unit will again be a lackluster group this season.
While there certainly is a reason for concern, the outlook is not as grim as many would lead you to believe because the Bengals certainly have some pieces along the line to play with. Look no further than 2018 first-round draft pick Billy Price who suffered a foot injury, causing him to miss six games. Before this injury, Price was an iron man. At Ohio State, he played in 55 straight games, the most in school history. Fans can rest assured that Price is a sturdy guy and unlikely to miss any more time.
While injuries shouldn’t be a concern for Price, where the Bengals decide he lines up should be. Before going down, Price was not living up to his draft billing and Ohio State success. Pro Football Focus gave him a season grade of just 49.2, which ranks to be below-average play. Price played two seasons at guard before the Buckeyes decided to kick him inside. While Price was able to hold his own against most college defensive linemen due to his impressive strength, the tape shows he didn’t hold up the same in the NFL.
It is clear that Price’s natural position is at guard, At that position, he can show off his strength and athleticism without having to worry about snapping the ball and getting bull-rushed by the likes of Aaron Donald or Cameron Heyward. It is much more likely that Price can live up to the praise he received coming out of college playing at that position.
Trey Hopkins should be a prime candidate to fill the void at the center position left by moving Price out to guard. He filled in admirably last year when Price went down with his injury. Pro Football Focus held Hopkins in much higher regard, giving him a grade of 59.3, which is average. Take into account that Hopkins has had little opportunity to show off what he can do and gain the necessary experience. The Bengals might finally have a reason to believe they can get adequate center play for the first time in years.
By shuffling the offensive line around, they can avoid the same disappointing play from last year, thus giving both Hopkins and Price much-needed experience at their best positions. These moves will set both players up for success this season and in the future, as well as allowing the offensive line to flourish. It also buys some time for the highly coveted Williams to become the cornerstone left tackle the Cincinnati Bengals have been desperate for.