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Andrew Billings isn’t first big defensive tackle from Baylor to play in AFC North

Before Baylor Bears DT Andrew Billings, there was Baylor Bears DT Phil Taylor. How did Taylor’s career play out? How does he compare to a pre-NFL Billings?

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

A few years before the Bengals selected Andrew Billings in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Browns used a first round pick on another Baylor large defensive tackle, Phil Taylor.

Taylor redshirted at Penn State before seeing some playing time over his next two seasons with the Nittany Lions. After a couple fights, including a guilty plea to disorderly conduct, he was put on probation and finally removed from the team. Taylor sat out a year due to transfer rules, before playing his last two seasons for the Baylor Bears.

With red-shirting and transferring, Taylor ultimately spent six seasons in the college ranks, making him an older prospect entering the NFL draft. He was a big boy, coming in at 6’3" and 334 pounds for his combine measurements.

Due to his size and effective play time with the Bears, he was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. His best season was that rookie year when he compiled 59 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and was named to Pro Football Weekly’s All-Rookie team. Unfortunately for Taylor, knee problems slowed his production down to only a combined 40 tackles and 3.0 sacks in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In 2014 he only played in five games, and ultimately missed the 2015 season, being cut by the Browns before it began. After being out of the league all last year, Taylor was signed by the Broncos this February for a chance to revive his career.

Unlike Taylor, Andrew Billings saw playing time right away in college. Billings had a solid freshman season and followed that up with being named All-Big 12 for his sophomore season. After his junior year he was again named All-Big 12, and also a First Team All-American.

At 6’1" and 311 pounds, Billings is a big boy too, although not as big as the massive Taylor. Billings entered the draft a full two years younger than Taylor after leaving school early, and not losing years to a red shirt or a transfer. He ran faster than Taylor, and jumped more than one foot further at the combine, for whatever that is worth.

Phil Taylor 6'3" 334 5.21 31 29.8 8'04" 4.77 7.75 23
Andrew Billings 6'1" 311 5.05 31 27.5 9'05" 4.82 8.05 21

Of course, the one thing we don’t know is how Billings’ NFL career will pan out. Bengals’ fans could hope that his numbers are comparable to Taylor’s rookie season, when he was active on the defensive line, racking up sacks and tackles, giving offensive linemen fits trying to push him out of the way.

Heading into his rookie season, Billings is younger than Taylor, and does not carry the checkered past. Billings doesn’t have the elite height-weight combination that pushed Taylor to get drafted in the first round, but was perhaps more effective in his role as the big beef in the middle of the Bears’ defensive line. Billings also enters his first NFL season regarded as perhaps the strongest player to come from the entire draft.