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Baylor NT Andrew Billings could be worth the Redskins’ first-round pick

Mar 15, 2016, 12:00 PM EDT

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 44 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how he might fit in Washington.

Andrew Billings
Defensive lineman

Height: 6-1
Weight: 311
40-yard dash: 5.05

Projected draft round: 1



What they’re saying

STRENGTHS: A load in the middle with brute power to engage blockers and toss them aside. Tough to block due to his blend of power and quickness.

At his best when he keeps his pad level low and rolls his hips at the point of attack to carry his momentum into the pocket. Has a motor that is always revving and effort isn’t an issue.

WEAKNESSES: Needs to improve backfield vision and pre-snap anticipation. Relies on forward lean, leading to him overextending and ending up on the ground. Has room to improve his patience and ball awareness. Lacks ideal range to consistently make plays outside the hashes.

Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins said goodbye to nose tackle Terrance Knighton and we are a week into free agency with no free agent replacement in sight. The Redskins could look to Billings to fill the void.

What makes Billings intriguing for the Redskins is that he can play both the zero technique (lined up directly over the center) or the one technique (over either of the center’s shoulders). The Redskins will line up in a true 3-4 only about 25 percent of the time so it is important to have a player who can be flexible.

Billings is unlike a few of the top D-line prospects in this draft in that you don’t have to project his production. In 2015 had 5.5 sacks and led the Bears with 15 tackles for a loss.

Scot McCloughan will examine a lot of film to determine if he fits the Redskins. But this one play shows that he just might. He is out in coverage on a screen pass and he has both the speed and the determination to chase him down from behind.


(GIF via Dallas Morning News)

Potential issues: The issues noted under “weaknesses” above can all be fixed with coaching and film work. The question that needs to be asked is if a first-round pick is too high for a nose tackle. Teams will usually wait until later rounds and find a big body who will plug the middle. If you are going to take a NT in the first he needs to produce like Haloti Ngata, Dontari Poe, or Vince Wilfork. Is Billings at that level?

This may be a positive or a negative but it’s worth noting that he just turned 21 earlier this month, making him one of the youngest players in this year’s draft pool. On the one hand you have to wonder if he will immediately have the maturity needed to succeed in the NFL. On the other hand, he will be in his second contract at the age of 25. He could be around a while.

Bottom line: Billings brings a rare combination of strength and speed. You saw his speed in the GIF above; when they put a stopwatch to him at the combine he ran a 5.05 forty-yard dash. He showed his strength as a senior in high school when he went to the state meet and set a record lifting a combined 2,010 pounds (805 pounds on the squat, 505 on the bench press, and 705 on the dead lift).

Would McCloughan pull the trigger on a nose tackle at pick No. 21? I think he showed last year that he’s not afraid to defy conventional wisdom in regards to when positions “should” be picked when he took Brandon Scherff, who was first a right tackle then a guard, with the fifth pick. If McCloughan thinks that Billings is the right kind of player and the best one on the board I don’t think he will hesitate to turn in the card.

In his own words

How he sees himself growing as a player:

I envision myself with double the knowledge really, and really playing the game smarter, not harder. I want to be able to get all the tricks the defensive linemen have right now and really use them against offensive linemen who have been playing for 12 years in the league.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

  1. abanig - Mar 15, 2016 at 12:18 PM

    Num, num, num! I want him! I’m a big fan of his, Rankins, A’Shawn Robinson & Jaran Reed. I’d take any of them!

    • renhoekk2 - Mar 15, 2016 at 12:40 PM

      Billings and Johnson from PSU are my two favorite NT prospects. Robinson and Reed are very good players as well, but I see them more as just run stuffing tackles.. Billings and Johnson seem more active and able to get tackles for loss and pressure on the QB. With teams having to use nickle packages more often than base, it would be more beneficial to have a NT that can get pressure on the QB as well.

      • abanig - Mar 15, 2016 at 3:13 PM

        If we want Johnson I think we can wait until round 2

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 15, 2016 at 2:47 PM

      Agreed. We need one of these guys. Wish we could get two!

      • abanig - Mar 15, 2016 at 3:14 PM

        We could actually, or two similar if we take DL in round 1 & 2 or if we go round 1 and round 3 on the DL.

  2. bk70 - Mar 15, 2016 at 12:28 PM

    Four DTs were selected in the first round last year…
    I like the seniors Reed and Rankings. (Then again, I’m torn with selecting the center Ryan Kelly with 21st pick).
    Who’s the better impact player? Solidify the OL with a center or improve the DL with a “nasty” run stopper.

    • Trey Gregory - Mar 15, 2016 at 3:02 PM

      I would take Billings over any of the centers in this draft any day. Not because I value DTs over centers but because there aren’t any centers, that I’m aware of, in this draft who I think will be better players than him.

      But, if you just want to look at the Redskins’ needs: we have a crop of young Olinemen with talent/potential and one the best OLine coaches around to develop that talent. We can move a number of guys to center without sacrificing talent at other positions (Lavau can play LG and Long can play cent) Not to mention we still have the starting center on the roster and he isn’t nearly as bad as some make him out to be. We also drafted a late round center last year as a project. Maybe he will step up? However, we don’t have a player worthy of being a starting nose tackle on the team anywhere. Baker not only broke out as a DE, but he was bad as a DT. So if we moved him we would be losing a good DE to gain a bad DT. I’ll spare you from going down the whole roster but none of these guys make me comfortable as the starting nose tackle. We have a much bigger immediate need there.

      There’s also that Billigs might actually be better as a 1 technique. So he wouldn’t just be one thing. Wouldn’t just be a 2 down run stuffer. He’s also a very strong, very athletic tackle. Those weightlifting numbers Rich posted were from his high school days. He should be even stronger now. This guy is a beast

    • bangkokben - Mar 15, 2016 at 3:03 PM

      “Who’s the better impact player?”

      When you consider how the Redskins offense got by with what they had at center last year, the answer would have to be DT. The Redskins were 17th in yards per game (11th in pass; 20th in rush) but 10th in points per game. Defensively, they were 28th in yards per game (25th against the pass; 26th against the rush) and 16th in points per game.

      • lezziemcdykerson - Mar 15, 2016 at 5:21 PM

        Larry Johnson could’ve ran on us yesterseason. That has to be addressed. I made an honest attempt to try to watch more college football this season but I didn’t. Had I known there were NT tackling QB’s 40 yds down the field I JUST might have! Guy looks great. I love motor guys, freaks of nature aren’t always technically sound and rely on their athleticism to get them out of spots good technique would have never put them in. It looks like this guy is a bit of both. Grinning ear to ear every time I see him turn his hips, not cross his feet in coverage, and explode to the ball. Probably never see that again but that’s pretty impressive for a guy that big. Hell our safeties can’t even get it right. I’ve been lobbying get a big receiver at the top order of the draft but if this guy is here GET HEEM.

        • Trey Gregory - Mar 15, 2016 at 5:30 PM

          @Lezzie: Ha, I love the enthusiasm. I’ve made it very clear that I’m biased here. I’m a Baylor Alumn and I fell in love with Billings the second I saw him on the field.

          Let me promise you something, he has technique. I know exactly what you mean about the freaks just getting by on their athletic ability and not technique. That’s Shawn Oakman, not Andrew Billings. Could he improve? Of course. And apparently that scouting report thinks so more than I do. But his technique isn’t awful. Not bad for a college DT like him. There will be some growing pains, as with any rookie, but I think he’s worth it. He’s very athletic for his size. But he may have to put on about 20 lbs to be a true NT. But I like his hybrid status. Because he can be that 1st and 2nd down 0 technique and 3rd down 1 technique or however else you want to use him. He’s not big like Knighton, but he’s athletic as hell. He’s also only 21. Don’t know about you, but my muscles got bigger and I developed more until I was probably 25. I expect the same would happen to him.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Mar 15, 2016 at 5:43 PM

          I haven’t seen anything on this guy so I’m not saying he’s a freak… that gif above was definitely indicative of him being a freak. I’m going by the scouting report which, come on, they HAVE to be objective. His scouting report doesn’t sound like their splitting hairs, those are technique problems. Now will he improve? Let’s just say he’ll be practicing against a young Bill Callahan O-line in practice. Sink or swim. Especially if we get a real C. He looks like he has all the attributes the MADTV guy likes; motor, gym rat and judging by the way he dropped in coverage could be a football guy. What NT would even practice coverage skills? One that wants to be able to do whatever he is called upon to do. We’ll see.

  3. scottmccloughanfan - Mar 15, 2016 at 1:43 PM


    I would not be surprised to see him taken ober REED [my personal fav].

    I would BE surprised if McCLOUGHAN didn’t take a NT/DT or FS with the 21st pick.

  4. bangkokben - Mar 15, 2016 at 3:13 PM

    So, somebody’s getting traded – just not a Redskin.

  5. babyteal1 - Mar 15, 2016 at 3:43 PM

    On another note…I’d like to see the Skins sign Reggie Nelson. Thoughts??

    • bangkokben - Mar 15, 2016 at 3:58 PM

      I think he’s too old and too expensive for his age. I suspect Goldson will be back in the fold for $3-4M/year.

      • Trey Gregory - Mar 15, 2016 at 4:21 PM

        I think I would be happier than most fans if we resigned Goldson. For whatever reason, I feel comfortable with him in the backfield.

        But apparently he’s meeting with the Cowboys. I don’t know how good our chances are if resigning him.

        If we don’t, we better sign someone. This is one of the few positions I’m actually worried about. Our safety depth chart is not good. Nelson is old but do we really know he’s too expensive? Shouldn’t he be less that Weddle? Who got $6.5 mil a year (I’m convinced I missed something in that deal, because it seems too cheap, but I can’t find anything that says I’m wrong). That’s less than what we payed Goldson. Maybe we can get Nelson for 5 a year with some decent guaranteed money. He seems like the only real option we have for an upgrade that’s left. Otherwise it might be pretty lean at safety next year.

        • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 15, 2016 at 4:33 PM

          Weddle’s deal is $29M for 4 years with $13M guaranteed. That’s not cheap when you consider he’s 31 years old, and had an off year (maybe just an off year, maybe he’s in decline…the chance you take with older free agents).

          As for Goldson, it’s not more than WE paid him. The Bucs picked up $4 million of his 2015 salary to facilitate the trade. I hope we get him back, for depth if nothing else. No one is paying him $8 million this year.

        • Trey Gregory - Mar 15, 2016 at 4:50 PM

          I read 4 years 26 mil (just looked it up again so ether the sources we’re reading are wrong or one of us is confused) with 13 guaranteed the first two years. That’s 6.5 mil a year right? And we were paying Goldson 8 mil a year right? And Weddle was the top safety free agent this year right? So resin stands that we could probably sign Nelson for less, which is already less than we were paying Goldson. Am I missing something?

        • bangkokben - Mar 15, 2016 at 4:36 PM

          “That’s less than what we payed Goldson.” That’s not less. It less than Goldson’s contract – he was getting paid by Tampa. Nelson, also play FS, right? I think the thought is move Hall over there in the offseason. Goldson can play both. The issue I think for both Goldson and McCloughan is the length of contract. I’m sure he’d like them for THIS year, not so sure he’d want them for next year and definitely not three years down the road.

        • Trey Gregory - Mar 15, 2016 at 4:54 PM

          Sorry. I read your reply in my email and didn’t see the second part. So Tampa picked up half his salary, meaning we only paid 4 mil but would have had to pay 8 mil this year. Got it.

          I agree no one is paying Goldson 8mil but I would rather see him back, at a cheaper price, than no one at all.

          Safties also traditionally can maintain their level of play longer than other positions. 31 isn’t that bad for a short term solution at safety. And maybe Nelson had a down year, but it was still a pretty good year.

      • babyteal1 - Mar 15, 2016 at 4:45 PM

        Isn’t Reggie about the same age as Goldson? 8 picks and no sign of aging….Goldson one of the worst rated safeties in football.

      • lezziemcdykerson - Mar 15, 2016 at 5:31 PM

        Agree with Bang on Nelson. Maybe on Goldson he had a productive year FA safety pool is deep enough just not sure cheaper would be better if we went after someone else. I know this isn’t the draft for safeties maybe not even CB’s but I was hoping to see this addressed either with the draft or after the draft.

  6. ajbus1 - Mar 15, 2016 at 5:23 PM

    We signed David Brunton, SS, who ended the year as a starter for the Broncos. Was also a key special teamer. Good measurables. Looks like a good signing, 3yr deal. Gonna guess he’ll start.

    Billings is who I’ve been hoping we take in the 1st. That gif just about says it all.

    • hail74 - Mar 15, 2016 at 5:35 PM

      It’s also nice to see a lot of Broncos fans are sad he’s leaving

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 15, 2016 at 6:27 PM

      He can battle it out with our other ex-Broncos safety, Ihenacho, for snaps.

      (Here’s hoping Nacho doesn’t start the season with a season-ending injury again.)
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