Price center of attention for Bengals
After watching four quarterbacks get taken earlier in the first round of the NFL draft, the Bengals used their first pick to help protect their own.
Cincinnati took Ohio State center Billy Price with the 21st overall pick on Thursday, adding another newcomer to an offensive line that was the main focus of their offseason.
While at Ohio State, the Austintown Fitch graduate won the 2017 Rimington Award winner, was named a unanimous All-American, a two-time team captain and was named the Big Ten Conference offensive lineman of the year.
Price was the Associated Press 2012 Division I co-defensive player of the year as a defensive lineman at Fitch and a first-team all-state pick.
The Falcons made the playoffs three consecutive seasons with Price.
Price also had success in track and field. He placed seventh in the discus at the 2012 Ohio outdoor state meet after placing sixth in the shot and second in the weight throw indoors.
The Bengals offense finished last in the league in yards last season and the running game was among the worst in club history. The main problem: a line that couldn’t protect Andy Dalton or open holes.
The Bengals lost center Russell Bodine in the offseason and needed someone to anchor the line.
Price injured a chest muscle during the NFL combine, but he’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
Cincinnati decided to keep Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator after he finished last season on an interim basis. They also gave him leeway to overhaul the playbook, and players have noted the many differences in style.
Warren Harding graduate James Daniels, a center from Iowa, also was considered a first-round candidate. He could go early in tonight’s second round.