Billy Price was thrust into a tough situation this past Thursday night against one of the league’s more vaunted front-four. However, the returns in his first career start as a New York Giant left little promise to build upon.
Serving as the team’s starting center in Big Blue’s one-point loss to Washington in Week 2, Price was by far the weakest link along an already murky offensive line. He finished the night as the team’s lowest graded player, notching an overall Pro Football Focus grade of just 28.1. His pass protection was particularly abysmal, earning a grade of literally 8.7.
“The Giants offensive line continues to struggle in the Dave Gettleman era, but center Billy Price was particularly problematic versus Washington, losing matchups against Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen to the tune of a 14% pressure rate allowed. He also allowed a sack,” wrote Diante Lee of Pro Football Focus. “The rest of the unit surrendered nine additional pressures and a second sack.”
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BJ Hill Turning Heads With the Bengals
To make matters worse, B.J. Hill, who the Giants traded in late August in exchange for Price’s services, looks to be fitting in extremely well along Cincinnati’s defensive front. Through two games (44 snaps), Hill is the Bengals’ highest-graded player with a mark of 85.6.
Thing is, none of these numbers should catch anyone by surprise. While they may be a few digits north or south of the players’ usual output, for the most part, Hill and Price have continued to be the players they’ve been throughout their careers. Hill, while never great, was one of the most consistent defensive contributors for the Giants during his time in East Rutherford. From 2019-2020, the former third-round pick averaged a PFF grade of 74.7. Price, on the other hand, owned a career PFF grade of 49.4 while with the Bengals.
Price Has a Chance to Rewrite his Career
The Giants knew they were coming away with the less prolific player when they pulled the trigger on this deal — that wasn’t the point. They felt comfortable with their defensive line depth enough to move off of Hill, who in the final year of his contract, was likely done in New York after this season anyway. Instead, they (for once) prioritized their need on the offensive line in hopes that a change of scenery could help Price finally live up to his first-round billing.
That may be a tall task to ask of Price, who has done very little in the pros. However, taking a flyer on a once highly-touted prospect still just 26 years of age has its merits. With that said, the Giants can’t just wait around for Price to find his footing. The team is already behind the eight-ball, both in terms of their record (only winless team in the NFC East) and in terms of their depth on the interior of their offensive line.
Nick Gates is done for the season with a broken leg while Shane Lemieux’s knee injury continues to linger, meaning Price will have every opportunity to demonstrate his worth as a starter over these next few weeks. However, if things continue to trend in the same direction we saw in Week 2, the Giants would be wise to chalk up the Price trade as a loss. The team may be thin up front but with a 51-game career starter in Matt Skura, as well as Ben Bredeson and former third-round pick Matt Peart all riding the bench, there are other offensive line combinations to be tried if need be.
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