The Cincinnati Bengals appear to have lost Andrew Billings for the 2016 NFL season.
Following surgery on Monday to repair a torn meniscus, Billings was expected to miss around four months while recovering. That allows the Bengals to put him on season-ending I.R. if they choose, which it looks like they’re doing.
Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Billings is expected to miss all of his rookie season.
#Bengals rookie DL Andrew Billings, who had surgery on Monday to repair a torn meniscus, is expected to be out for the season, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 16, 2016
Drafted in the fourth round out of Baylor in this year’s NFL Draft, Billings was viewed as one of the best nose tackle prospects to come out of this draft. The problem is, Billings is a two-down nose tackle which, in an NFL more geared towards the pass, isn't as valuable
That’s why Billings fell to the Bengals on Day 3, despite being as dominant as a run-stuffer as college football had in 2014-15.
As tough as it is for Billings to lose his rookie season, this isn’t necessarily a loss for the Bengals. With Billings now out for the year, the Bengals will likely have a defensive tackle rotation of Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Marcus Hardison and Pat Sims with Hardison also working at end.
Those four, in addition to a possible fifth tackle in DeShawn Williams, would have likely kept Billings from seeing the field much as a rookie. Atkins and Peko already occupy most of the snaps, and Sims is about as good of a third tackle as any NFL team will have.
The Bengals also may have Brandon Thompson back if he opens the year on PUP and then comes off of it 6-8 weeks into the regular season.
And it’s no secret Marvin Lewis is very reluctant to let rookies see the field, especially when there are veterans already in place at their positions. As much talent and potential as Billings may have, the odds of him having a big role in this defense were never high.
Now, Billings will get all the time he needs to recover from this injury and potentially take on a big role in Cincinnati next year. That’s when Peko and Thompson become free agents.