Bengals draft pick Billy Price hopes to bring out the team's best

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-27 19:10:52-04

Billy Price learned how to be a winner from his late grandfather.

The Cincinnati Bengals' first-round draft pick -- a center out of Ohio State who was taken No. 21 overall on Thursday -- said it all starts with being a man of character and treating others with respect.

"He was a foreman at GM in northeast Ohio in Lordstown, and he was always a person that believed you win with people and you win by treating people right and getting people to do things because of the person you are, not by being task-oriented," Price said during a press conference Friday to formally introduce him to the Cincinnati media at Paul Brown Stadium. "You've got to have a human element and make sure people trust you, that you treat people with respect and all those elements to really maximize somebody. You've got treat people with respect, make sure you're well-rounded, and that brings out the best in people."

Price hopes to bring out the best in the Bengals with that same approach.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound Remington Trophy winner expects to compete for a starting role from Day 1 and wants to assume a significant role in getting Cincinnati back to the playoffs. The Bengals are looking for him to fully recover from a partial pectoral tear by training camp to replace four-year starter Russell Bodine. Price's only prior injury was a concussion as a sophomore in high school.

"That's my expectation as well, to get with the vets, earn that respect and make sure we have high expectations and we'll continue to push the level, push the bar and to get back into the playoffs and make sure we're contending every single year," Price said. "I think it starts up front with the offensive line, making sure we get the jobs done and execute things soundly and let the guys take care of everything else."

Price has said all the right things since the Bengals began looking at him -- during visits to Columbus, during the NFL Combine, when he came for a pre-draft visit to Cincinnati and since getting drafted.

It's easy to see why he was a two-year captain for the Buckeyes.

"I had a lot of chances to interact with him, and I wanted to be careful not to like him too much because obviously when you go into the draft sometimes the cards have to fall your way," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "This is a player and person we felt very good about as far as his ability to come in here and be a very productive player as a young player and also to become a pillar of your football team. He plays a position that he has to have some leadership ability, and that's really important to play the position he plays. I think he demonstrated all those things to us throughout the entire process."

Price, already showing leadership abilities similar to those of former Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, shouldn't have much trouble earning respect from the veterans in the locker room.

He's got the intellect to command attention with his words, but he plans to do more showing than telling.

"I'm not a rah-rah, flashy guy," he said. "I need to make sure my job is taken care of, and playing offensive line, if your name isn't being called, it's probably a good thing."

Price has never been one to run from adversity, so he didn't mind taking responsibility when things didn't go as well at Ohio State.

He said that although he tries to be a person of "high character" off the field, he knows how to shift his mindset come practice or game time.

"You have to be approachable, … you have to be someone with high character, high morals, and once you get on the field, you've got to flip that switch and you've got to have no problem tearing someone's face off," Price said. "I think that's something as you come into a program, what we did at Ohio State it was that mentality. Going forward, it's making sure I bring that physical play and making sure you're smart and prepared and anticipating anything that can tip the boat."

Although seemingly well-prepared for the jump to the NFL, Price doesn't have any illusions it will be easy.

He has a chance to be a part of the Bengals' rebuilding of the offensive line and joins fellow newcomer Cordy Glenn, a tackle who was acquired last month in a trade with Buffalo.

"It will be a transition period," Price said. "Again, you've got to understand NFL offenses are a lot more diverse than what I did at Ohio State in college. It will be an adjustment, but I'm up to the challenge."

Lewis said he's excited to see Price evolve as a center. He only began playing the position full-time in 2017, when he was a unanimous first-team All-American in addition to winning the Remington award given to the nation's top center.

He played right guard as a junior, left guard as a sophomore and both sides at guard as a redshirt freshman in 2014 with the national championship squad. Before that, he was the Associated Press Division 1 Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Austintown Fitch High School.

"Moving forward, I think his opportunity to continue to grow as a player, he's just been really a full-time center for one season so I think he's got a lot ahead of him that way to continue the development that way," Lewis said. "I think he fit well into what we saw and envisioned our offensive front group would look like moving forward, and he's one of our first choices at that."

Price had considered, briefly, forgoing his senior year and declaring for the draft last year, but he knew playing center would give him more versatility and value to an NFL franchise.

It worked out pretty well for him.

"Yeah," he laughed. "Not too bad."