NFL draft profile — No. 47: Ohio State C Billy Price

Combine pectoral injury could make tough and intelligent Price a Day 2 steal

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Ohio State C Billy Price, our No. 47 overall prospect in the 2018 NFL draft, saw his stock hurt a bit by a pectoral injury at the NFL scouting combine. (USA Today Sports)

Each day leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, I’ll break down one of my top 50 prospects. In some cases, we had to make tough omissions because of poor injuries, combine showings or incomplete information. For more complete scouting reports on all the prospects, check out the Pro Football Weekly 2018 Draft Guide, which is available for order now.

47. Ohio State C Billy Price
6-foot-4, 305 pounds

(Editor's note: Price originally was rated higher on our list before the injury he suffered at the NFL scouting combine bumped him down slightly.)

Key stat: Two-time All-America pick (unanimous selection in 2017) and two-time team captain who won the Rimington Trophy in 2017 as the nation’s outstanding center, finishing his OSU career tied for the most consecutive starts in school history with 55.

The skinny: Price earned a starting spot immediately as a true freshman at guard, leading the way for the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff national championship team that year. He earned second-team freshman All-American status that year, as well as Academic All-Big Ten honors. As a sophomore, Price was named third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches, and his junior year he was named team captain and was named first-team All-American (by the American Football Coaches Association) and first-team All-Big Ten (by coaches and media).

Moving to center as a senior after three years at guard to replace 2017 Minnesota Vikings third-round pick Pat Elflein, Price elevated his game even more to win the Rimington and earn first-team All-American honors as a unanimous selection. Price suffered a pectoral injury on his third rep on the bench press at the NFL scouting combine. He reported that he had suffered only a partial tear and said he would have a four-month recovery time and be ready for the start of NFL training camps. We should get a clearer picture of his status at the Indianapolis scouting combine medical recheck in early April.

Upside: Despite the freak pec injury, Price was an iron man for the Buckeyes, starting every game. Showed toughness throughout his career and is regarded as a leader in the locker room and tireless worker in the weight room. Was expected to challenge for top mark on the bench at the combine before the injury.

Excelled at two positions, guard and center, and could be Day 1 NFL starter at either if his pec checks out. Exceptional run blocker with quick feet and strong punch. Gets his base set and can overwhelm defenders with his power. Seeks to bury people as a true finisher. Aggressive, fiery temperament but keeps his composure and technique. Locks onto defenders and seldom lets them break free.

Able to make line calls and adjustments and correct others’ mistakes. Shows sneaky good change-of-direction skills on stunts and late blitzes. Great on tandem blocks. Not a bump-and-steer blocker — anchors and drives. Four-quarter player who can lose reps early in a game and adjust as he goes. Watch Price work around his guard up to the second level with no wasted motion and clean out Michigan’s best run-stopping linebacker, Mike McCray, on a successful run:

Downside: Short arms, small hands and squatty physique. Although he played guard, Price might be labeled a center-only on some teams’ boards because of his arm length and hand size. Great weight-room strength but not a top-tier athlete. Still perfecting his shotgun snapping — had a misfire against Michigan last season.

Lacks great balance. Can end up on the ground a lot, which is the type of thing many old-school OL coaches will track. Can work on his cut-block effectiveness. Doesn’t track as well to the second level as you’d like. Can gets too aggressive and lunge at defenders. Can trap and pull but not the kind of athlete you’d ask to do this with regularity.

The one sack credited to Price last season also came against Michigan. Watch as he’s slow to diagnose the blitz and not come off the double team quickly enough to get enough of a looping Rashan Gary, who worked past Price for the sack:

Best-suited destination: Really, Price fits almost any scheme. He’s shown enough positional versatility and movement skills to ask him to man or zone block. Teams that could use his toughness and intelligence for immediate returns — again, if he’s healthy — include the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers (if they don’t address it in free agency), Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams and Carolina Panthers, among others.

Quotable: “I’m not worried about this at all. I’m going to come back stronger. You’re going to have really put a bullet between us Ohio State guys’ eyes to put us down. I’m looking forward to getting back out there. Whatever team ends up selecting me, we’re going to be 100 percent full ahead into it.” — Price to the media the combine after he suffered his pectoral injury

Player comp: John Sullivan

Expected draft range: Round 2

Previous profiles

50. Oregon RB Royce Freeman
49. South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
48. LSU DE-LB Arden Key