The Cincinnati Bengals have signed defensive tackle Andrew billings to his rookie contract.
Billings, who was taken with the 122nd pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, is now signed to a four-year deal with Cincinnati. According to Over The Cap, Billings' deal carries a total value of $2,875,844, which averages out to just $718,961 per year.
Going into the draft, Billings was widely viewed as a first-round prospect with many mock drafts pegging him to the Bengals at No. 24 overall. Though that 'may' have been a slight reach, few would have complained about the Bengals taking Billings there, so you can imagine how big of a steal it was to Draft him in the latter part of Round 4.
As the first two days of the draft passed, rumors began to circulate about a knee issue that wasn't made publicly known. However, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted after the Bengals made their selection that it was Billings' label as "a two-down defensive tackle" that caused his slide. Head coach Marvin Lewis also noted Billings 6-foot-1-inch height as a reason he dropped.
But as Geno Atkins has shown us, you don't have to be tall or particularly bulky to raise hell in the trenches.
Andrew Billings generated 75 total pressures over past 2 seasons, tied for the 8th-most for interior defenders in the NFL Draft— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 30, 2016
While draft pundits didn't peg Billings as a defensive tackle who can bring interior pass rush pressure, he did have 5.5 sacks last year for Baylor, to go along with 39 total tackles and 14 tackles for loss. For his efforts, Billings was a 2015 All-American and the co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Big 12. He finished his college career with 107 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in three seasons.
But as good as Billings was in college, we've seen time and time again the Bengals bring on even some of their most talented rookies on a slow learning curve that sees their playing time slightly increase as the season wears on. Plus, Cincinnati will want to get everything Domata Peko has left to offer before possibly letting him go as a 32-year-old free agent next year.
That would then pave the way for Billings to take over as the full-time starting nose tackle. Combined with Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, that's a frontline no NFL team wants to see.
Billings is the sixth of the Bengals' Draft picks to sign his rookie deal, leaving only first round pick William Jackson III remaining to be signed.