Dismiss the Cincinnati Bengals' draft efforts if you want to, but once again the franchise is quietly assembling a strong class. After getting caught in the worst possible part of a first-round run on the receiver position, they still snatched up a quality cornerback who can be disruptive in the passing game. In the second round, they got their receiver. By the third, they could have made the move for a much-needed defensive tackle, but they stood pat until after scooping up a linebacker many predicted would be a Day 3 selection.
That patience paid off Saturday afternoon when a player who was once mocked to the Bengals as a first-rounder -- yes, first-rounder -- was still on the board for their fourth-round pick. At that point, they wasted little time to snatch up Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings:
My take: Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin doesn't get anywhere near the credit he ought to nationally, but he has been successfully guiding the Bengals to unexpectedly strong draft hauls the past five years. For him and his staff to demonstrate the patience to wait on a player like Billings said something. It said that unlike some teams that might give in to popular opinion and go with the players who have been mocked to them in specific rounds, the Bengals consistently stay true to their draft board. Coach Marvin Lewis believes Billings likely slipped all the way into the fourth round because of his height. At 6-foot, Billings is shorter than most players at his position. In that way, he's similar to Geno Atkins, the Bengals' Pro Bowler who is only 6-foot-1. Atkins also fell into the fourth round in 2010. Along with Atkins and Billings, the Bengals also took defensive tackles Domata Peko (2006) and Marcus Hardison (2015) in the fourth round.
Pancake power: When Billings was in high school, he played offensive tackle in addition to the defensive line. As an offensive lineman, he had 266 pancake blocks his junior and senior seasons. Asked on a conference call just after his selection if he had ever been pancaked, the 311-pound Billings simply replied: "No." Billings' strength is what had the Bengals convinced they needed to draft him. He has previously squatted reps at 805 pounds, and benched at 605.