The single best way to start any talk about Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings is to mention that he once set the record in Texas high school weightlifting by compiling a 2,010 pound effort, including an 805-pound squat, a 500-pound bench press, and a 705-pound deadlift. Those were his high school numbers. Let that sink in.
Billings did not travel far as he left Waco High School to attend Baylor University. He was ranked as a top 15 offensive guard, but Baylor needed him to play defensive tackle. Billings showed improvement in each of his three seasons. Billings saw action in eleven games as a true freshman including two starts, and he had nice numbers that season with 29 tackles (17 solo), 3.5 TFL, and three quarterback hurries.
He moved into the permanent starting lineup as the nose tackle in his sophomore year. Billings immediately seized command of the opportunity and became a dominant force. During his 2014 sophomore season he put up 37 tackles (26 solo), 11.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, nine quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. This earned him the honor to be named a consensus First -Team All-Big XII. Billings followed that up with a 2015 that continued to draw attention. He finished with 40 tackles (32 solo), 15.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble. Between these two seasons, Billings missed one start due to injury. The 2015 season ended with Billings being a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, an AP 1st Team All-American, unanimous 1st Team All-Big XII, co-Big XII Defensive Player of the Year, and Big XII Defensive Lineman of the Year. With all the numbers and accolades piling up, Billings declared for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Billings showed his strength at the Scouting Combine, bench pressing 225 pounds 31 times. That was just two fewer than Chris Mayes for the best among defensive linemen and three less than Christian Westerman for best at the Combine overall. Billings also posted a 5.05-second 40-yard dash. That number is impressive for someone 6'1" and 311 pounds. Billings did well, but did not shine with his 27.5" vertical jump and 9'5" broad jump. Billings also did just okay with his 4.82 20-yard shuttle and 8.05 three-cone drill. Billings looked better at his Pro Day by hurling his massive body 40 yards in just 4.96 seconds. Billings also showed improvement in the shuttle (4.77 sec.) and three-cone drill (7.77 sec.). Overall, scouts saw what they thought they would see.
Billings could be exactly what the Packers need in a first round pick. If he falls as far as the 27th pick, he would be an immediate difference-maker in the run game. He is strong and quick on his feet. Billings projected mostly as a run stopping tackle heading into the 2015 season, but he showed improvement in his pass rushing abilities. Billings provides that inside presence that could be dominant in the run game and provide pass rush up the middle when needed. Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews would love to see the quarterback step up in the pocket only to meet the pressure from this powerful man.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein opined, "With elite power and unusual closing speed for a big man, Billings has a chance to become something we rarely see -- a playmaking nose tackle with the ability to dominate at the point of attack." The only criticism is some scouts have felt he does not stay in his high gear all the time. Some feel he might have been better served to return to Baylor for his senior year. That is a hard thing to state when Billings is a sure fire first round pick. Without a redshirt or a senior season, Billings only just turned 21 this March. He has shown a continued growth through three years at Baylor and has a very high ceiling. Billings could step in and immediately make an impact and help the Packers through Mike Pennel's suspension. For a team that has been so close to the Super Bowl in consecutive years while having the 21st-ranked run defense in 2015, Billings would be a steal at pick 27.