Bengals Day 3 draft picks will battle for playing time in 2021

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 30: (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 30: (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Trey Hill vs Billy Price

It is a pivotal season for fourth-year center Billy Price. After what has been a disappointing career to date for the former Buckeye first-rounder, the Bengals declined to pick up his fifth-year option.

That means Price is faced with a contract year where he doesn’t project as a starter. Trey Hopkins’ recovery from injury is likely to be touch and go for the start of the season. Price has the opportunity early in the year to show the Bengals some of the ability that persuaded them to invest a high pick in him.

Price is apparently buoyed by the return of OL coach Frank Pollack and the hope is that he can rekindle Price’s fire and make him a serviceable center in lieu of Hopkins and push the starting guards for playing time.

If there was ever a signal that Price isn’t in the Bengals long-term plans it was the drafting of Georgia center Trey Hill in the sixth round on Saturday. While Price is likely to get early season snaps, the hope is that the team can move on from him and install Hill as the backup come 2022.

Hill scored a 76.2 PFF grade in 2020 for the Bulldogs and has the longest arms of the highly regarded centers in this year’s draft cycle. Hill will need to get playing time to prove he can back up Hopkins but there should also be opportunities at the guard spot.

Coming from SEC country, Hill should be used to high-level competition and there is always the option to move Hopkins to guard should Hill prove to be better than expected.