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Andrew Billings' stunning draft fall has the Bengals DT thinking payback

CINCINNATI -- Nine days before the NFL draft, former Baylor standout Andrew Billings was sent to the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of a televised mock draft conducted by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.

That mock pick was made amid serious buzz around the defensive tackle. It was the kind of buzz that made it seem like the 6-foot-2 lineman would hear his name called last Thursday night as one of the draft's first 31 picks.

But he didn't. It took two days before he was finally picked, and by then, Billings had started to develop a payback mentality. In his eyes, each of the teams that passed on him were going to rue the weekend they let him get away.

"This is something I'm going to carry with me my whole life," Billings said. "It's actually a good thing for me."

Billings had been told that Minnesota, Green Bay and Washington all wanted him in the late first round. But Minnesota and Washington took a pair of receivers just before the Bengals added cornerback William Jackson III at No. 24 overall. Green Bay did end up getting a first-round defensive tackle, but it was Kenny Clark from UCLA.

Rounds 2 and 3 came, but it was the same story. Billings didn't get the phone call he had been waiting for.

By this point, he was boiling mad. He could feel a chip growing on his shoulder.

"It's huge," Billings later said of the chip, "I can't even explain how huge it is.

"I like the feeling, though."

Billings was finally taken by the Bengals with the 122nd overall pick, in the middle of Round 4. The defensive tackle's size and lack of pass-rush statistics -- he only had 5.5 sacks, including just one in the lone game in which he wasn't double-teamed last season -- were major contributors to the stunning fall.

By the way, ever hear of a player named Geno Atkins? The Bengals Pro Bowler is just 6-foot-1, and he also slid in the 2010 draft due to concerns about his height and awkward wide-footed walking style. He, too, was a fourth-rounder. Yet he's been a productive pass-rusher ever since -- he had 11 sacks last season alone.

New Bengals defensive line coach Jacob Burney was actually happy to hear about Billings' chip.

"He's a guy that'll think, 'They should have taken me whenever,' and that's fine," Burney said. "That'll be just motivation for him from that standpoint. Hopefully it stays with him for his entire career, not just one year. He's that kind of person.

"He'll take where he was drafted as a challenge, not as something to be depressed about, but as a challenge to prove that people missed him."