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2016 NFL Draft: Could DT Andrew Billings push the pocket for the Giants?

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The Giants need help at every defensive line position besides the one John Hankins plays. Baylor's Andrew Billings has grabbed attention since declaring for the draft

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants need help on their defensive line. Johnathan Hankins is a force at defensive tackle, but torn pectoral muscles can be tricky for linemen to come back from. Jay Bromley looked promising in 2015, but his limited snaps for much of the season leaves him as something of a mystery. Montori Hughes and Louis Nix are interesting player who might have considerable upside, but neither has proven much yet either.

If the free agent defensive tackle pool dries up before the Giants get the chance to make a splash, could they look to the draft?

[Update: The Giants certainly did make a splash in free agency, but they have never shied away from reinforcing a strength]

Measurables

Pros

  • Elite power. Re-set Texas state power lifting records in high school.
  • High revving motor. Never seems to give up on a play and will pursue far downfield.
  • Natural leverage makes him very difficult to block when he keeps his pads down.
  • Surprisingly quick for a player with his build.
  • Stout run defender and disruptive when he gets into the backfield.

Cons

  • Primarily played nose tackle in Baylor's defense. Should be able to make the move to 3-technique, but it is a bit of a projection
  • Occasionally struggles with pad level, limiting his advantage in leverage and power
  • Technically limited. Doesn't seem to quite know what to do with his hands beyond push people.
  • Change of direction ability is a concern, and his range appears limited -- Could affect his ability to stunt/twist.
  • Baylor has an extremely high scoring offense. Did that benefit Billings by forcing opposing offenses to be one-dimensional?

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 16th

Mocking The Draft - 30th

CBS - 15th

Draft Tek - 28th

Does He Fit With the Giants?

Assuming the Giants don't add a defensive tackle like Malik Jackson in free agency, and aren't satisfied with the defensive tackles already on the roster:

Absolutely.

Billings checks a number of boxes that the Giants love in a lineman, and in a prospect in general. He is exceptionally powerful. The Giants routinely draft linemen who were tops, or toward in the bench press, and Billings' background makes him the odds-on favorite to "win" that drill at the Combine. Billings is young, not turning 21 until March, has a high-revving motor, and seems to be a committed teammate -- reportedly did not make the decision to come out lightly, and plans to continue to pursue his degree while in the NFL.

He also offers the versatility the Giants love out of their prospects. He has extensive experience playing the nose tackle or 1-technique (lining up over the center), but his build and explosive strength suggest that he also has the ability to line up at the 3-technique (between the guard and tackle) and act as more of a pass-rusher.

While Billings is a bit raw in his hand usage (not an uncommon issue for defensive linemen coming out), he could be very high on the Giants' big board. Depending on how he answers the questions regarding his movement skills at the combine, he could be a dark-horse to watch at 10th overall.

Final Thoughts

Andrew Billings is a player who caught my eye as a potential Giant a while ago, a strong candidate for their annual second-round lineman pick. However, a strong 2015 season that saw him notch 40 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, and 5.5 sacks -- all from the nose tackle position -- has likely pushed him into the first round.

Now the question is two-fold. Did his performance push him up high enough to be in consideration for the 10th pick in the draft? And will the time between now and then set the Giants up to take Billings?

If everything works out for him, Billings could become what they hoped Marvin Austin would have been.