Even though he's just a rookie, Andrew Billings already possess more power than many current NFL players.
Billings, who was taken with the 122nd pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, is a weightlifting legend in the state of Texas. As a senior at Waco High School, Billings broke Mark Henry's state powerlifting record with a 2,010-pound effort (500-pound bench, 705-pound deadlift, 805-pound squat).
Billings translated that showcase in the weight room to dominance on the football field. He racked up 5.5 sacks, 39 tackles and 14 tackles for loss this past year at Baylor, which earned him 2015 All-American and the co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Big 12.
After being projected as a first-round pick by many services in this year's draft, Billings endured a shocking fall to the Bengals in Round 4. It sounds like he's using that as added motivation this offseason, even making an effort to work with noted strength coach Clif Marshall at the Ignition Training Retreat in Florida, according to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson.
"Usually, rookies don’t make that trip. He’s one of the first ones. He reached out to me," says Marshall, who used to work under current Bengals strength coach Chip Morton. "His lower body strength is the best I’ve ever seen here. His upper body is in the same category as Geno Atkins, Bobbie Williams, Tank Johnson."
Billings stands at 6’1" and weighs in around 311 pounds, but he's surprisingly quick and agile for his size, thanks in large part to his work ethic and burning desire to be the best both in the weight room and on the football field.
"Some of the craziest workouts of my life were in high school," Billings says. "That was my first sport. That really got me into football."
During a recent workout, Marshall watched Billings toss around 600 pounds on the squat like a rag doll, so he's installed a lifting cap to limit how much Billings can do, which is precautionary and for his safety.
"That told me he could put on 100 more pounds, but we don’t want anybody getting hurt," Marshall says. "So I put a governor on him. I didn’t want him going over 600."
Billings has also been hitting the playbook hard to give himself the best chance at making an impact in his rookie year.
"Earlier I was studying the basics. First, start with the new playbook and learn that," Billings said. "Now I’m learning the whole scheme with the idea knowing what the whole defense does."
Going into training camp, Billings is facing a tall task of earning significant playing time his rookie season. With DeShawn Williams, Pat Sims, Marcus Hardison, Brandon Thompson, Geno Atkins and Domata Peko all returning, Billings is going to find it tough just being active on the gameday roster.
There isn't much concern that he'll make the final roster, and it's not crazy to think he'll be better than an aging Sims (30 going on 31 in November) and Peko (31 going on 32 in November). A great showing in camp and the preseason could lead to Billings taking on a big role in this defense as a rookie, but whatever happens, he has a bright future ahead of him.