The return of injured 2016 draft picks Jackson and Billings will help the Bengals’ defense stall the opposing run game and help create turnovers.
The 2016 NFL draft resulted in some high-quality players for the Bengals, including WRs Tyler Boyd and Cody Core, LB Nick Vigil, S Clayton Fejedelem, and versatile G Christian Westerman. However, two very exciting prospects the Bengals drafted didn’t get to see the playing field. CB William Jackson III and DT Andrew Billings were selected in hopes of making immediate impacts to the Bengals very good 2015 defense. However, they both sustained injuries in training camp and were lost for the season.
As I detailed in Part 2, just like the Bengals offense, the defense should receive a significant boost with the return of Jackson and Billings. Both players impressed early on in the 2016 training camp, and have replicated that success this offseason. Jackson adds more depth at corner–which now looks stacked–and Billings is the penciled-in starter next to Atkins.
Although the Bengals 2016 NFL draft didn’t supply the big-ticket name, it provided huge amounts of talent and depth. As we’re accustomed to with Duke Tobin, the Bengals stayed true to their board and picked the players they were comfortable with. But, Mike Mayock, the NFL Network draft guru and wizard of words, spoke very highly of Billings.
"He’s great against the run. You can’t double-team him. You can’t move him. He has short-area quickness. Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will find ways to use him."
Coley Harvey of ESPN solved the riddle of why Billings dropped to the third day of the draft.
"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 is similar to Geno Atkins, the Bengals Pro Bowler who is only 6-foot-1."
Less was said about Jackson on draft night. But, I clearly remember being thoroughly impressed by his tape. At 6-foot, he has tremendous arm length and a very quick close on the ball. My boy Mayock shared:
"He finds the football when it’s in the air and then he becomes the wide receiver."
Harvey added a bit more information:
"One of the draft class’ fastest players and top cover corners, Jackson is a strong selection."
Release the Secret Weapons
Jackson and Billings are huge additions to the defense. Billings comes in as an immovable object with quick feet to stall the run game. Jackson then slides in as a smooth criminal to break up and steal some INTs. But, with the addition of these two and other young players, the Bengals will own the line of scrimmage, keep points off the board and Dalton on the field.