With the 122nd pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected Baylor defensive tackle, Andrew Billings. He is the latest addition in the 2016 class consisting of first round cornerback William Jackson III, second round wide receiver Tyler Boyd and third round linebacker Nick Vigil, and joins the club after his own decorated collegiate career.
At Baylor, Billings made a name for himself as a big, run-stopping defensive lineman. He joins the Bengals and will compete for time with others in the position group, including Domata Peko, Pat Sims, Marcus Hardison and Brandon Thompson, who will likely start the season on the PUP List.
Initially, Billings (6'2", 310 pounds) was looked at as a first round prospect, with many mock drafts pegging him to the Bengals at No. 24 overall. As the first two days of the draft passed, rumors began to circulate about a knee issue that wasn't made publicly known. But, Ian Rapoport noted after Cincinnati made its selection that it was Billings' label as "a two-down defensive tackle" causing his slide to the back end of the fourth round. Marvin Lewis also noted his 6-foot-1-inch height as a reason he dropped.
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 (14 for loss). He finished with 107 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in three seasons. In addition, Billings was a 2015 All-American and the co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Big 12.
The Bengals had a high grade on Billings going into the draft, according to reports on Twitter, and had to spring on him when he was surprisingly still available at No. 122 overall. New Bengals defensive line coach, Jacob Burney said of Billings' role with the Bengals as a rookie: "He's going to come and be ready to play, like all of them. In my mind there's no process to let you stew for awhile. We're in a win-now business. We're going to come in, get ready, and let's go."
Meanwhile, Cincinnati's head coach, always playing coy, told the media: "He's an anchor and he just turned 21. We're happy."
Defensive tackle was perceived as one of the team's biggest needs going into this year's draft, as Domata Peko is nearing the end of his career and the players behind him haven't shown that they are the heir apparent after Peko leaves Cincinnati. With consecutive years in using fourth round picks at the position, the future could be very bright with Billings and Hardison playing next to Geno Atkins. If Billings lives up to his billing, he should be able to take away any double and triple teams from Atkins and benefit the entire defensive line.
If the Bengals taking a talented defensive tackle in the fourth round sounds familiar, it should. Current defensive tackles in Peko, Hardison and Atkins have all landed with the Bengals in the round and the team has been able to mold most of their mid-round picks at the position into solid, if not outstanding players. Cincinnati hopes and believes Billings is the next in the decorated lineage.
Remaining Needs: Interior offensive line, defensive end, wide receiver, safety, tight end.
How to Watch the NFL Draft, Rounds 4-7
Date: Sat., April 30
Time: 12 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, ESPN
Bengals picks: Pick No. 161, No. 199, No. 245.