Steelers Prospect Watch: Andrew Billings

Will the Steelers target an interior defensive lineman in the draft?

For much of 2015, the defensive line proved to be a bright spot for the Steelers.  Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt showed that they can play at an elite level.

But outside of them, the rest of the defensive line was average at best.   Two of those guys, Steve McLendon and Cam Thomas, are unrestricted free agents.

Thomas was awful in this two year stint with the Steelers and surely won’t be back.  McLendon could resign with the team, but it would have to be at the right price.

What this year’s draft does not lack is talent on the defensive line.  There are a lot of different linemen who could be selected in the first and second days come April.

One of those players is Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings.  Since the departure of Casey Hampton, the Steelers have yet to find a player who can line up as a zero technique.  Billings gives you that and more.

Like Hampton, Billings is really strong.  And I mean like he can be in the world’s strongest man competition on ESPN 2.  He owns several of his high-school’s powerlifting record including benching 500 pounds, deadlifting 705 and squatting 805.

This kid’s no sloth like Hampton was.  Billings is an athletic penetrator who can fight off blocks and make plays in the backfield.  Unlike Hampton, who was a two down player, Billings rarely came off the field, playing all three downs.

After only making two starts in his freshman season, he burst onto the scene during Baylor’s run at a national title in 2014. Billings was all-Big 12 that season, posting 12 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.  Even though he was clearly the best defensive lineman at Baylor, he failed to get the attention that surrounded another Baylor d-lineman: Shawn Oakman

You remember Oakman right? He’s the 6’9 275 lbs. former Penn Stater that made waves on Twitter during the 2014 Cotton Bowl.  Though he is a physical specimen, Oakman is still a very raw player and is still learning how to use is size.

Unlike this predator like creature of a teammate, Billings is one of the most NFL ready guys in this draft.  He might be only 21 years old (his birthday was a few days ago), but that doesn’t mean he is light on experience.  Billings has played in a lot on the big stage in his college career, especially in 2015, which was his best.

He improved his tackle for loss and sack production, posting 14 and 5.5.  For his efforts, Billings was co-defensive player of the year in the Big 12 and earned several All-American nods.

This combination of versatility, athleticism and herculean strength makes Billings one of the more intriguing prospects this year.  He would be a great fit into the Steelers scheme and can play in any package.

Yes, there are more imposing needs the Steelers need to address, but Billings has the potential to be a true force on the defense.