The Cincinnati Bengals have taken chances on injured prospects in recent years, and this year was no different.
With the 21st overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft on Thursday, Cincinnati drafted center Billy Price out of Ohio State. The 6'4", 305-pound offensive lineman suffered a partially torn pec while bench-pressing at the combine and underwent surgery in early March.
According to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Price revealed he is "way ahead of schedule" in his rehab and that his doctor is amazed by how quickly he is recovering.
The Ohio native addressed the matter during his introductory press conference on Friday (around the 16:10 mark):
It marks the fourth consecutive year Cincinnati's first-round pick has had injury concerns. Cedric Ogbuehi (torn ACL) and John Ross (shoulder) entered their respective drafts banged up, while William Jackson III (torn pec) did not suffer his injury until after being drafted but wound up on injured reserve to start his career.
The Bengals needed to address their offensive line this offseason, and when Arkansas' Frank Ragnow was taken right before Cincinnati went on the clock, Price was the highest-rated center remaining on its board. They apparently feel that he has made enough progress that the injury will not be a long-term concern.
Price proved to be an ironman at Ohio State. He started all 55 games in his college career while playing in the physical Big Ten. As he noted in his presser, the only time he has ever dealt with an injury was when he suffered a concussion during his sophomore season in high school.
In past years, the Bengals had enough depth and talent where they could afford to wait for a player to get healthy. That's not the case this year as things stand. The team already traded for veteran lineman Cordy Glenn earlier this offseason and drafted Price to be a Day 1 starter.
Marvin Lewis and Co. believe Price has the potential to be an anchor in the middle of the line. As long as there are no setbacks between now and September, it appears the rookie should be ready for Week 1.