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The Bengals got better on Thursday night, even if they reached

James Rapien

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I could rip the Bengals for passing on James Daniels from Iowa. Most believe he will end up being the best center in this class. I could criticize them for reaching on Price when there’s a 50/50 chance he would be there at 46. I’m not going to do that. Not because I’m a HUGE fan of the pick, but because I look at this with a little perspective.

The Bengals have done A LOT to turn the offensive line around this offseason. Their biggest weakness has been addressed time and time again. They brought in a new offensive line coach with a completely different approach (Frank Pollack), moved on from a below average center in Russell Bodine and basically traded the 12th pick in the draft for two day one starters on the offensive line. Cordy Glenn is a GIANT upgrade from Cedric Ogbuehi. Price is going to be a significant upgrade from Bodine. If I would’ve told you in January that the Bengals would turn the 12th pick into two upgrades – one at left tackle and the other at center, you would’ve jumped for joy.

I get the value of the Price pick bothering you. Sometimes it’s worth overpaying for the piece of mind. The Bengals don’t have to worry about a center falling to them tomorrow. They don’t have to stay up all night wondering if they should trade up to land the center they love. Instead of worrying, they filled their biggest need with their first pick.
Before we call it a “blown pick” like this guy did, how about we look at this with a little perspective? Dave Lapham mentioned Price to me two months ago. This team has been eyeing him for months. It may be underwhelming, disappointing, feel like a reach, BUT the Bengals got better today and they believe they have got their center for the next decade.

“Billy Price is probably the most game-ready,” Lapham told me earlier this week when discussing the top three centers. That had to play a role in the Bengals’ ranking. They need a player who can step in and start right away.

They thought Ragnow and Price could do that.

I am confident in saying Price will be a good NFL player. He may never be a pro bowler or an all pro, but he is going to be the best center they’ve had since Rich Braham. He won’t be a whiff like Ogbuehi was. Price feels like the Sam Darnold of centers. Boring, doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but he is a safe pick. Sometimes playing it safe is the right decision.

Check out Solomon Tentman’s film evaluation of Billy Price.

James covers the Cincinnati Bengals for ESPN 1530 and 700 WLW in Cincinnati. He hosts shows on both stations, including Cincy 3:60 from 12pm-1pm daily on ESPN 1530. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Feel free to email him your ideas, fantasy football questions and hot takes.

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