On Monday, the New York Giants acknowledged their shortcomings on the offensive line when they traded defensive lineman B.J. Hill and a conditional 2022 seventh-round pick for 2018 first-round center/guard Billy Price. I have long been a fan of Hill’s potential as a defensive lineman who can create interior pressure, but the Giants are deep at the position, and Hill is a free agent next season.
After watching the film on Price, I would say Hill is a better football player. Still, the value of the offensive line outweighs the value of the defensive line, especially when the Giants had young defensive linemen like David Moa and Raymond Johnson III play well in the preseason - it made Hill more expendable.
Price’s career has been turbulent. He tore his pectoral muscle at the combine and missed most of his rookie offseason. He’s also dealt with foot injuries that have sidelined him. Price was a quality interior offensive line prospect coming out of Ohio State. He failed to reach expectations on a team that’s been abysmal since they selected him with the 21st pick in 2018. He was replaced and relegated to a backup role in 2020. Cincinnati did not pick up his fifth-year option this past May.
The Giants love versatile players who can perform at multiple positions - and Price brings that. He has played in 1,354 career snaps at center and both guard positions. He’s surrendered 28 pressures and four sacks on 892 pass-blocking reps through his career. According to Pro Football Focus, Price graded poorly over the last two seasons as a pass blocker but was average as a run blocker.
Price’s one concern coming out of Ohio State was his lack of high-end athletic ability. That does show up on tape; he’s an average athlete at best for the position. He has short 32-inch arms which put him at the 22nd percentile for IOL. His wingspan is in the 7th percentile, and he has 9 ¾-inch hands which put him at the 45th percentile. Price couldn’t perform in drills at the combine due to his pectoral injury from bench pressing.
On tape, there were glimpses of excellent use of leverage, exploding low to high, along with good readjustment of hands when his blocks are framed well. He’s a better run blocker than a pass blocker, which is similar to Shane Lemieux. However, when defenders had momentum coming forward, Price seemed to struggle to square his body and make quality contact with his hands to mitigate the pass rush. Let’s paint the picture with some super exciting, non-All-22 film.
Billy Price is #53, playing RG and OC in these clips
Price is blocking a 2-technique who shades towards the A-Gap, the running back’s path, after the snap. Price gets into the inside shoulder of the defensive lineman. As his hands grasp the defender, Price flips his hips towards the B-Gap, creating a narrow path for the running back to find in the A-Gap. Price ends up losing the pad-level battle but still finds a way to control and turn the defender away from the running back.
I wanted to point this play because it is a G-Lead play with Price as the play-side puller. Joey Bosa (97) crashes the C-Gap, and the tight end makes no contact on the player. Price does a good job recognizing the threat and getting to Bosa’s outside shoulder as the talented defensive lineman is turning towards the running back. Price eliminates Bosa from the play, but the rest of the blocking faltered, resulting in the disaster.
Price is the center on this play. He takes on contact very well. Instead of losing the half-man relationship and allowing strong penetration, Price shifts his weight towards the slant, keeps his hips low, and churns his legs through the block, resulting in a pancake. The congestion helps with the pancake, but this is a good technique from Price.
The Bengals are in a third-and-3 situation with Price at center here. The one shade slants into the A-Gap, and Price does a good job chipping that penetrator, ensuring that his guard has the block, and then climbing to the penetrating linebacker with good timing. It’s great timing and feel by Price to ensure the linebacker doesn’t disrupt the play. He then gets his inside hand on the breastplate of B.J. Goodson (93) and drives through the defender.
Here’s a solid play where Price chips the one shade and gives him an extra shove to further his momentum to the ground, which clears the path for the running back. This is impressive play strength here and great location ability at the second level. Once Price tosses the defensive linemen to the deck, he locates Rashaan Evans (54) at the second level and positions himself between the runner’s path and Evan’s pursuit. Very nice play in the running game right here from Price.
While I’m more confident about Price’s fundamentals as a run blocker than with his pass blocking upside, I still see technical flaws and inconsistencies in his run blocking game. He still tends to lean a bit too much at times, like we see above against the Titans. Patience is hard in these situations where offensive linemen have to get their bodies on defenders, but leaving oneself susceptible to quick moves, when there’s no help from either guard leads to mistakes like the one we see above.
Pass blocking good
In this fourth-and-4 situation, Price is lined up against the young, talented Jeffrey Simmons (98). He does an excellent job absorbing the contact and maintaining a low center of gravity upon receiving Simmons. Price gets a bit of help from the right guard, but he’s able to lock his hands inside and turn Simmons away from the pocket, showing a good anchor on this play - something that isn’t consistent with his pass blocking.
Price does a good job at right guard here against this 3-technique. Price gets up the guard arc and locates the chest of the pass rusher with his outside arm. The defender attempts to chop Price violently’s arm downward, but Price continues to work his feet and mirror the rusher while bringing his inside arm to replace the initial established outside arm. This helps prevent the pass rusher from winning the outside shoulder or employing certain pass rush moves like a swim or rip, as long as Price stays square to the target. Price then follows the pass rusher and transitions him into a fellow Bengals’ blocker. When quarterback Joe Burrow attempts to evade outside, Price is right there to disallow pursuit from his original blocking assignment.
This is another excellent play from Price in pass protection while taking on a Jeffrey Simmons bull-rush. He has guard help to both sides, which may have prevented Simmons from going “all out,” but he still anchors well and readjusts his hands to get underneath Simmons’ pads, which is great to see. Watch how he sits on his hips and sinks his pad level beneath Simmons as he finds better hand placement to mitigate the rush.
Here’s a similar play that we saw two clips ago - the Chargers pass rusher tries to win outside, and Price makes contact on the mid-line of the defender before replacing that hand with his inside hand as he continues to mirror the rusher. Price stays low, square, and doesn’t allow the pass rusher to gain access to either shoulder.
We get to see Price uncovered on this pass-rushing play. He has a 2i-technique to his right and a 3-technique to his left, but watch how he is constantly looking for the stunt/loop. His eyes are darting back and forth until he finds work in his area, and then look how he engages said work; he sinks his posture and explodes through his hips with his hands tight. He drops his head a bit before contact, which should be cleaned up, but it’s still a solid rep that shows some awareness.
Price gets out into space here against the Cleveland Browns. Watch how he paces himself into contact before locating the inside shoulder of the defensive back, effectively eliminating him from accessing Giovani Bernard (25). It is a good display of location skills in space.
Price does an adequate job executing stunt pickup on this play above. He is a bit late recognizing the original 3-technique, who was tight to the interior defensive linemen. Still, once Price saw the twist happening, he was able to flip his hips and get enough of the looper to mitigate his success. He does a good job planting that inside foot and getting to the outside to locate the looper once that defender had a slight advantage.
The realization that a stunt was materializing happens early here for Price. At the snap, he puts both hands out to feel contact on each player. He makes initial contact with the nose and then turns his body towards the penetrating linebacker. He eats the contact hard and gets turned around, which isn’t ideal, but he holds the linebacker long enough to prevent a sack. It could have easily been a penalty.
Price gets ear-holed a bit on this stunt coming from the 3-technique, as he’s engaged with the 1-technique who did a good job selling direct penetration before looping. The 1-technique does his penetrator a solid by pulling the outside shoulder of Price downward, which left him vulnerable to the contact.
Pass blocking bad
Late in this breathtaking overtime tie against the Eagles, Price struggled against Fletcher Cox, one of the better interior rushers in the league. When Cox was allowed to pin his ears back, it wasn’t pretty for Price. The star defender runs right through Price’s initial outside arm contact and then takes advantage of Price’s positioning by ripping through his outside shoulder after getting hip to hip. The swipe/rip combination, along with Cox’s natural burst, leaves Price with his back turned running into the pocket.
Cox wins with pure power, rather than speed, in this third-and-long situation against Price. Cox gets underneath the punch of Price, putting the offensive lineman on skates, chest to chest, with Price’s center of gravity fully extended with no recourse to sink back on his hips and rely on his adequate anchor. Cox runs through Price’s blocking attempt in this challenging situation.
Both these plays should be acknowledged, but I want to state that Price may have believed he had adjacent help on each rep here. It looks as if he loses on both, but Cox is a 2i-technique, yet the center turns his attention towards his left, possibly anticipating a loop of some sort. It appears Price expected help. The Chargers play is similar to me; the center turns his attention away and doesn’t pay mind to the immediate threat in the A-gap, albeit Price seems to drift a bit too far anyways. It looks like both were miscommunications that weren’t executed well by multiple blockers.
Price struggles to frame this linebacker A-Gap plug, something that he does at times against defenders with momentum. Price leans slightly, goes to punch, allows the defender to keep his chest clean, and then is left scrambling. Price has to be more square in these situations and do a better job not allowing defenders to slide off his punches.
The defender does a good job acquiring Price’s hands when the offensive linemen goes to block on this play. The punch doesn’t land, and there’s a slight lean into the block that puts Price into a questionable position.
Anchor and the ability to stay in front of blocks are aspects of Price’s game that aren’t entirely natural. The defender gets right into Price’s chest on this play and shoves him backward. Against stronger competition, Price can get put on skates, especially if he doesn’t cleanly land first contact and dictate the play early. If he allows the defender to keep his chest clean while not staying square and mirroring the player’s movements, then Price gets put into disadvantageous situations where he has to be more creative to win.
As much as I like B.J. Hill as a player, the Giants had to do something about their lack of depth along the offensive line. Price is a solid run blocker who isn’t a great pass protector, but he’s not a terrible one either. Against better defenders he will noticeably struggle, which is commonplace in the NFL. He has positional versatility along the interior offensive line. Price isn’t the best athlete, nor are his measurables excellent, but he has good overall play strength, uses solid leverage to win at the point of attack, and he’s solid in space despite the lack of elite athletic ability. A change of scenery may suit Price, who never lived up to his potential with the Bengals.