As the 2016 NFL Draft continues to draw nearer, the talk about whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers should spend their first round draft pick on Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings is certainly in full swing. While several seem to be on board with Billings being the Steelers first-round selection, others seem to think that the team shouldn’t spend an early pick on a player who might only see the field as a base nose tackle.
After going through quite a bit of Billings’ tape from the last two seasons, I have come to the conclusion that the young defensive lineman can most definitely play all three downs for the Steelers should the need arise.
For starters, as you can see in the video that I have put together for you below, 6 of Billing’s 7.5 sacks that registered at Baylor over the course of the last two seasons came on third downs. Additionally, while I don’t have his complete pass rushing stats from 2014, I can tell you that in 2015 he was on the field for 146 of Baylor’s 201 third down defensive snaps in 2015. That number would likely have been higher had he not missed a game and half with an ankle injury.
As for his pass rushing production last season, numbers compiled by STATS indicate that Billings had 4 sacks, 11 pressures, 4 hurries and 7 knockdowns in 2015 on third downs. That production is nothing to scoff at when you consider that a portion of the 146 third down snaps that he was on the field for last season were runs.
If Billings is ultimately drafted by the Steelers, it goes without saying that defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt would still both likely play most of the team’s nickel snaps in their defense. However, Billings should be able to help in that rotation on second and third downs in an effort to keep Heyward and Tuitt from wearing down late in games.