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Bengals' No. 1 Pick: What About Billings?

Cincinnati is in need of a big defensive tackle. At 310 pounds with power and quickness, Billings is a great fit for most. But, is he a good fit for the Bengals?

I was recently asked about a prospective Bengals No. 1 pick in April's NFL Draft.

Here is the player in question: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor.

Here is the reasoning behind the pick:

The Bengals are in need of a big tackle to stick in the middle of their otherwise very talented defensive line. At 310 pounds with excellent power and quickness, Billings is a great fit. Much like the rest of their defensive line, Billings is a high energy guy with a high motor. His only issue is he’s sometimes a bit over eager and over pursues.

Here is my response:

Billings would be a decent fit for the Bengals. A scheme-versatile prospect, he does fit their need for a big, strong run stopper alongside DT Geno Atkins -- whose sidekick, Domata Peko, though still greatly valued by the team -- is getting a little long in the tooth. It would, however, be a surprise to see the Bengals draft a DT with their first pick, especially Billings, who profiles as more of a pocket-pusher rather than an elite pass rusher who can be invisible in an uptempo game, which is exactly what Peko has become. I don't see the value-conscious Bengals drafting a potential two-down player in the first round.

History also works against it. The Bengals haven't drafted a DT first in 22 years. Since then, they've demonstrated that they can find quality DTs in the middle rounds: Glen Steele in the fourth round in 1998, Peko in the fourth in 2006, Atkins in the fourth in 2010, and they tried it again last year with Marcus Hardison in the fourth.  It's when they've tried to outsmart themselves by taking a DT earlier that's resulted in disappointments: Pat Sims third round 2008, Devon Still second round 2012, Brandon Thompson third round in 2012.

My money is on the Bengals going WR in the first round. And I could be all wrong because, hey, it's the unpredicatable Bengals, who drafted offensive tackles 1-2 last year with starters Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith on the roster. The Bengals have drafted two receivers with their No. 1 pick and two receivers with their No. 2 pick since 2000.


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