By Kip Earlywine
Weight: 300 lbs.
Unofficial 40: 5.05
- Lightning fast first step
- Very good burst/recovery, explosive off the snap
- Plays hard and never quits plays
- Penetrates very well, lives in the backfield
- Big, strong, thick body
- Very good bull rusher
- Good at winning leverage
- Seems to utterly dominate zone blocking scheme
- Good at knocking away hands in the initial clash
- Led all college football players in tackles for loss (23.5)
- Productive pass rusher (7 sacks)
- Only 20 years old (turns 21 in April)
- Good character (looks like a good locker room guy)
- Connections with Brandon Mebane
- Sometimes struggles to disengage
- Pass rush arsenal is nearly 1 dimensional
- Lots of diving and falling
- Some inconsistency against the run
- Maxed out frame, 300 looks to be his absolute limit
- Only a 4-3 three tech
- Extremely little untapped potential physically
- Seems far less effective against bigger linemen, man systems
- Doesn't beat double teams often
- A bit of an over-achiever
"Since Price's freshman season, I've been impressed with the way he explodes off the football. A power and leverage guy with an impressive rip move, Price has a knack for being able to make big plays in the opponent's backfield. When we talk about the top DT prospects in the country, Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy are the cream of the crop. But the gap between them and Price definitely has narrowed."
Brian Price is a supremely productive and young DT prospect who was highly recruited out of High School. Its a bit of a wonder then that he's merely a top 15-30 pick. There are very good reasons for it, which I'll get to later. The best way to describe Price is to say he's similar to a 3 tech Mebane. He's super quick off the snap, and adept at penetrating into the backfield, but does it with leverage, quickness, and power, not skill. Mebane was basically an average to above average 3 tech in 2009, but that's a little misleading since he was paired with Colin Cole, who is worthless in the pass rush and worth little against the run. If you could clone Mebane to pair with himself, I'd imagine he'd make a pretty good 3.
Price has a bit of a connection with Brandon Mebane. They went to the same high school and Price's father was Mebane's coach. When at UCLA, Price contacted Mebane for advice against USC. I'm not sure if being friends off the field will pay any dividends on it, but its a pretty neat connection.
Getting back my impressions, I noticed that the lion's share of Price's big plays came against smaller linemen attempting to angle block him. Price's two biggest strengths are his bull rush and his ability to club hands off him at first contact. Zone guards and centers are left grasping air when he knocks their hands away, and then he charges their inside shoulder at a rate they simply can't keep up with. Angle blocking can be weak against a bull rush to begin with and Price's style seems tailor made to take advantage of the seam it allows. This results in instantaneous backfield penetration on a frequent basis against those types of teams. Price is a nightmare for Max Unger types and zone teams will have to game plan him in the NFL.
Price seems to fare less well against direct blocking. When Price is directly engaged, his bull rush can be stonewalled. His club move seems less valuable when being blocked straight on too. This is where Price is exposed. Once those two things are neutralized, he doesn't have much of a pass rush repertoire to disengage with. If the Seahawks draft him, expect him to have huge games and disappear in other ones depending on the match-ups.
Price isn't a liability against the double team, but he doesn't beat them very often either. In that sense, he'll probably never be as good as Brandon Mebane.
The big issue with Price is that his body seems totally maxed out bulk wise, and he doesn't bring a lot of skills to the table. He's a bit of a one-trick pony. If teams can stop his bull rush, he could be in big trouble because he's not going to have the ability to add size and adding skills this late is improbable.
He's not especially dominating against the run either. While his tackles for loss are incredible, and his awareness is usually good, he can misdiagnose plays or otherwise be run on sometimes.
Outside of Suh, there isn't a more dominant bull rushing DT in this draft. However, Price represents a bit of a gamble as would any one-dimensional player trying to leap to the NFL. I think Seattle could be a good fit for Price, though he strikes me as a bit of a boom or bust player.