Here’s the 2018 NFL Draft profile on center Billy Price out of Ohio State breaking down his strengths, weaknesses, video highlights, and if he makes sense for the New York Jets.
The 2018 NFL Draft features a myriad of excellent interior offensive line talent and Billy Price is near the very top of that class. A four-year starter at Ohio State, Price made a living by mauling opposing front-seven players and dominating Big 10 foes for close to half a decade. The Youngstown, Ohio native is a gritty warrior whose brute strength is enough to make even the toughest football players whimper in fear at the sheer presence of him. He would make a fine addition to the New York Jets offensive line.
Originally recruited as a defensive lineman, Price switched to the offensive side of the football during his redshirt freshman season and proceeded to start 55 consecutive games, tying the Ohio State record set by current Minnesota Vikings center Pat Elfein.
The mauling offensive lineman started his first three years at guard for the Buckeyes before moving inside to the center position. Despite it being his first season at the position, Price won that year’s Remington Trophy given out to the nation’s top center. That’s quite the honor for the two-time collegiate All-American.
Unfortunately, Price suffered a partially torn left pectoral muscle performing on the bench press at this year’s NFL Combine, an injury that could force him to miss some valuable time in training camp and ultimately hurt his draft stock.
With that, let’s take a look and examine some of Price’s biggest strengths and weaknesses and determine whether or not he would be available for the taking by the Jets.
The biggest strength of Price’s game is, well…..his strength.
Price dominates his opponents at the point of attack and is as explosive of a blocker as they come. He uses his raw strength to shove defenders back opening up holes in the run game in the process. His blocking technique is tailor-made for run blocking making this the most valuable trait he brings to the table.
He has impressive core strength with the ability to erupt from his stance quickly and fluidly. At times, Price could look like the most dominant player on the field. Moreover, there may not be a player in this class tougher than Billy Price. He has a warrior-like mentality to him every time he steps foot on the field and he uses that mentality to display his physical and mental toughness. He is a high character player who will step in from day one and not only be a starter, but be a leader. Price will be the field general and set the tone for any offense he is a part of.
Speaking of his grittiness and character, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was quoted in this video saying “Of the many players I’ve coached, it’s hard for me to find another player I respect more than Billy.” That’s high praise from one of college football’s most renowned coaches.
Given his starting experience and positional flexibility, it shouldn’t be surprising that teams hold Price in such high regard. That combined with Ohio State’s reputation for putting out quality offensive line talent should go a long way into solidifying him as a potential first-round selection.
The largest negative affecting Price right now isn’t even a flaw in his game, but rather a recent injury suffered at the 2018 NFL Combine. The Ohio State product was expected to tear it up this year at the bench press and he did just that, only not in the way he would’ve hoped.
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Cheap joke aside, Price’s injury is certainly a crushing blow but luckily it does not appear to be as bad as initially feared and he is not expected to need surgery at this time. That being said, the injury could force him to miss some training camp time which as we all know is extremely valuable for rookies just coming into the league.
There have been plenty of instances of first-year players missing some time in either training camp or the preseason and starting their NFL careers off well behind the eight ball. Any team drafting Price would need to be fully aware and content with that risk.
As for his game, although Price is one of the most commanding run blockers in this draft, his pass blocking leaves a lot to be desired. His footwork in pass protection still needs some work as he is much less comfortable dropping back to create a pocket than he is pushing forwards to demoralize a defender.
Pro Football Focus ranked Price 27th among all draft-eligible centers in Pass Block Efficiency which is a startlingly low number considering his evaluation as potentially the best center in this year’s class. When reviewing his game film, it’s clear that Price will sometimes get caught flat-footed when dealing with a blitzing linebacker. His raw strength may be elite, but his footwork isn’t nearly on the same level yet.
Elsewhere, Price’s consistency as a blocker has been called into question on occasion. The former Buckeye standout will sporadically alternate between a dominant, mauling block and a flat-footed, off-balance block which may turn some teams off. This doesn’t seem to be a major, recurring issue, however.
Despite his injury, Price is still currently being projected as a late first round to second round prospect with little chance he would fall all the way to round three. Because of this, it makes it hard to envision a scenario in which Price is a Jet next year, given that the team does not have a second-round pick.
It became even more unlikely after the Jets opted to sign former Washington Redskins center Spencer Long to a four-year, $28 million deal during free agency effectively filling the team’s need at the center position.
It is still in the realm of possibility that the team could slide either Price or the newly acquired Long over to guard and cut ties with veteran James Carpenter which would save the team even more cap space. Both Price and Long have plenty of experience playing guard so this isn’t the most implausible sequence of events.
That being said, it is highly unlikely that Price would be available by the time the Jets pick again in the third round unless the team was to trade up quite a few picks. If this were to happen, Jets fans may be hit with a case of major deja vu.
Price bears a strong resemblance to a certain Ohio State center whose toughness and leadership ability helped him to make seven Pro Bowl appearances over his 11-year career. The Jets would certainly love to get their hands on this Nick Mangold doppelganger and solidify the center position as the anchor of the team’s offensive line once again. Only this time the anchor would ditch the long blonde locks for a freshly-shaved bald head.