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Assessing value Bengals received in Drafting Andrew Billings

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Spoiler alert: Andrew Billings was a big steal, but you probably already knew that.

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Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals needed to address defensive tackle early in this year's NFL draft, and they didn't technically did that, but the value of the defensive tackle pick they made could have been worthy of an early pick.

Ask any Draft analyst about Baylor Bears star Andrew Billings, and they'll tell you he's exactly the kind of early-round talent the Bengals needed to add to their aging defensive line. Taking Billings as high as 24 seemed like a possible option as Round 1 played out and there were no viable receivers worth taking there. Some experts actually had Billings ranked as a higher prospect than William Jackson III, who ultimately was the pick at 24.

Getting Billings in Round 2 would have been a nice steal for a guy expected to go in the 20s or 30s. Round 3 would have been a big steal for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year that few saw coming.

But Round 4? You'll be hard pressed to find anyone that had that low of a grade/projection for Billings. He was just too good of a prospect to fall that far, yet that's exactly what happened before Cincinnati scooped him up with the 122nd pick.

Prior to the draft, Billings was ranked as NFL.com's 35th-best prospect. The guys at CBS Sports had him ranked 33rd overall. Yahoo Sports ranked Billings as their 28th-best prospect.

ESPN's Mel Kiper had the Baylor product ranked 38th overall, while Todd McShay tabbed Billings as his 45th-best prospect. SB Nation's Mocking the Draft had him ranked 44th overall.

Pro Football Focus gave Billings the best ranking any service had him at 22nd overall. Sports Illustrated wasn't far behind with Billings coming in at 23rd in the SI 50.

All of this led to an average pre-draft ranking off 33.5 for Billings, meaning he should have been selected late on Day 1 or early on Day 2. Instead, the Bengals got him 88.5 spots after his average ranking, or about 2.5 full rounds later.

Over at coldomaha.com, Arif Hasan collected over 40 draft boards and combined them to showcase how players were ranked overall. His ranking had Billings coming in at the 25th-best prospect.

Based on all of this, it remains safe to call Billings one of the biggest steals of the 2016 NFL Draft.