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Would You Rather: Domata Peko or Andrew Billings start at defensive tackle

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The proven veteran in Peko or the young Baylor product in Billings – which would you rather get the majority of snaps at defensive tackle next to Geno Atkins?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In our series investigating "would you rather" questions, we look today at the defensive tackle position and ask, "Would you rather see Domata Peko or Andrew Billings become the Bengals’ starting defensive tackle on the defensive line next to Geno Atkins this year?"

One thing all of these "would you rather" questions have in common is that there is no middle ground. You can’t opt out and choose "both" or "neither". Instead, you have to pick one of the two. You can’t choose both Peko and Billings to split the defensive snaps 50/50. In our game, you have to choose which you would prefer to become the clear starter, taking the majority of defensive snaps.

Domata Peko

The Bengals’ defense has finished as a top-10 defense in five of the last seven years. One of the stalwarts on those defensive units has been Peko as a starting defensive tackle. He has been a consistent contributor who has started for nine consecutive years on the Bengals’ line.

Peko has been a model of health, playing 16 games in six straight seasons and 16 games in nine of his 10 years in the NFL. And the talk of him diminishing as he enters his 30’s is perhaps a bit overblown as he is coming off his best season as a pass rusher with 5.0 sacks in 2015.

Peko knows the defense and knows his role. He is a steady presence on the line and is the most obvious choice to be starting alongside Atkins at defensive tackle in 2016.

Andrew Billings

Billings has much more upside compared to Peko. Consider that Peko had only 2.5 tackles for a loss, and only 1.0 sacks as a senior at Michigan State, while Billings racked up 14.0 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks as a young junior at Baylor. Billings can bring that same level of play to the Bengals defensive line, and replace a weaker link with a big upgrade up front for the Bengals.

Billings, who just turned 21, was perhaps one of the strongest players in all of college football last year, setting Texas state records for power lifting while in high school. All that strength translated into a power and dominant style of play which earned him both the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year awards following the 2015 college football season.

You want your best players on the field, and at defensive tackle that means Atkins and Billings, who is the smart choice to be starting in 2016 over Peko as long as he has a successful summer.