When looking at the 2017 depth chart compared to the 2016 depth chart, there are noticeable holes, but the team is in a much better place now than it was entering the 2016 season after a mass exodus of NFL departures and graduation. Using key departures, spotlighting players at important positions, leadership qualities, and recognizing the depth at each position, we came up with the 10 most important players on the team. They may not be the most heralded players, or even the best players, but they will be vital to this team’s on-field success.
No. 3: Billy Price
2016 stats: 8 hurries allowed, 4 QB hits allowed and 3 sacks allowed on 426 pass blocking snaps (Per, CFB Film Room).
Following in the footsteps of the great Pat Elflein, who was one of the nation’s best guards before moving to center his senior year, Ohio State’s most dependable player has made the move from guard to the center position. Billy Price is the definition of an iron man, starting every game since 2014 (41 straight), needing only 10 more starts to break Luke Fickell’s school-record consecutive start streak of 49 straight games.
Ohio State guard Billy Price...pass pro does not have to be passive. pic.twitter.com/Y8f42Frvso— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) June 14, 2017
With the move to center, Price will be able to use his high football IQ to make calls on the offensive line and keep everyone on the same page, which is the key to whether or not this team lives up to expectations. As we saw last season, the offensive line got worked in their two losses, and were ultimately the weak link on a very talented squad. They single-handedly lost the Penn State game, allowing 26 pressures, seven hits and six sacks on J.T. Barrett’s 51 dropbacks. Not to mention they were completely out-classed by Clemson’s dominant defensive line in the College Football Playoff.
Entering this season, the offensive line is a year more experienced — they return four-of-five starters — and they upgraded the offensive coordinator position with the addition of Kevin Wilson. Wilson is going to mitigate offensive line issues by having Barrett get rid of the ball quickly and let the playmakers make plays.
Although they’re a year older and more experienced, Price’s leadership, attitude and overall skillset will keep the offensive line on the same page. If they start to slip up, expect Price to keep the linemen together and make sure they’re mentally on the same page. If they are once again the weak link, Price will get the brunt of the blame.