Billy Price | C/OG, Ohio State
Weight: 312 pounds
Late 1st-Early 2nd Round
Strength: Functional strength is one of Price’s most impressive traits. He has an advanced understanding of the intricacies of playing center. Based on his technique, footwork, and consistency, it shows Price has been well coached at Ohio State. Although he isn’t a prospect that’s going to bury defenders on the ground every down, Price does a good job of generating movement at the point of attack and establishing a new line of scrimmage.
In the running game, he takes pride in displacing defenders and creating run lanes for ball carriers. The former Buckeye center’s natural leverage stands out on tape. He possesses explosive hips and always keeps his feet moving with the scripted play.
In the example above, Ohio State’s offense is trying to execute an inside zone play. Price’s responsibility is the nose tackle (player lined up directly over top of him). As the center, Price already has a head start on the defender because he knows the snap count, or when exactly to snap the ball. This gives him a slight advantage because he can fire off of the ball quicker than the nose tackle can react.
What makes this play so impressive, though, is his ball get-off, his control of the defender, and the violent finish. Price consistently shows excellent strength and the ability to drive defenders backward.
Experience: Price was without question the heartbeat of the Ohio State offensive line last season. After playing guard for three seasons, moving to the middle it was a seamless transition for Price. From Corey Linsley to Pat Elflein and now Price, playing center for the Buckeyes has become a bit of a rite of passage in college football. It is a position that comes with high expectations.
Price lived up to every bit of the hype and followed through on the lofty expectations. That was evident as he took home the Rimington Award, which honors the top center in the nation. Pat Elfein won the award in 2016 and is now the focal point for Minnesota’s revamped offensive line.
Price played in 55 consecutive games, which broke a school record originally set by Luke Fickell (1993-1996).Such a feat is a testament not only to Price’s experience, but his durability at an increasingly violent position. Rarely is Price confused by defensive fronts, formations, and blitz schemes. He has seen almost every defensive strategy a team could throw his way.
Resetting against counter moves: Price’s explosiveness and strength are what stand out most about his playing style, but an area where he tends to struggle is when quick interior defensive lineman — with pro-ready body control and hand usage — can reset their hands at the point of attack. When defenders do that, Price tends to lunge, duck his head, and completely lose sight of where that defender is.
Length: At 6’4″ and 312 pounds, Price’s height and weight combo are ideal, but his arm length is a bit of a question mark. This show up at times with his lack of sustainability on blocks. He’s dominant at the initial engagement point, but he can lose control of defenders because he can’t extend his arms into their chest and control them. This is not a big concern, though, because it doesn’t show up at an alarming rate.
After originally coming to Ohio State as a defensive lineman in 2013, Price thought about giving up football. He went to head coach Urban Meyer and persuaded him to move him to the offensive line. Since that move, Price has become one of the most decorated offensive lineman in Buckeyes history.
There arguably isn’t a prospect in this draft that makes more sense for the Vikings on the first night of the draft than Billy Price. He is one of the safest prospects in this entire draft class. With Joe Berger contemplating retirement, that potentially leaves a huge hole at the guard spot.
One of the biggest reasons why the former Buckeye makes a lot of sense for Minnesota is because he fills a position of need and he already has prior experience playing with Pat Elflein, the team’s standout rookie center and 2017 3rd-round draft pick.
Playing 39 career games together at Ohio State, it would make a lot of sense for general manager Rick Spielman to once again team the pair back up and potentially have the interior of the offensive front set for years to come.
Chemistry isn’t the only reason why Price makes sense though; he most importantly is a scheme fit. John DeFilippo, the new offensive coordinator for the Vikings, incorporates a mixture of zone and man blocking schemes, identical to what Price ran at Ohio State.
There will be a debate on which player between Price and Elflein should play guard or center, but it would be wise for the team to keep Elflein at center, since he ‘s already proven what he can do there. Playing Price at center and moving Elflein to guard would leave the team with two unknowns, because you would not know how their performances would translate into those new positions.
Film clips courtesy of Billy Marshall (BillyM_91)
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