The Browns continue to make waves in free agency and Andrew Berry is off to a fantastic start as the new general manager. With the defense full of holes, the Browns are beginning to find different pieces to fill spots signing LB BJ Goodson, S Karl Joseph and DT Andrew Billings. All of these deals are for only one year and the three players continue the trend of the Browns signing free agents who are just entering their prime.
If these players work out, the Browns can either re-sign them as long-term fixtures on the defense, or they can simply let them walk next offseason for compensatory picks. Of course, if they don’t work out, then the Browns only have to deal with them for a single season and move on, so these all seem to be low-risk high-reward deals. Billings could perhaps be the best signing of the group and I think he could be a long-term fit for the defense. At just 24 years old, Billings is still young and he’s already started 37 games during his three-year career. Billings has gotten better each season, but after the Bengals signed one of the best interior players in the NFL, DJ Reader, to pair with Geno Atkins, there were no more snaps for the young talent.
Billings is a space-eater who doubles as a large athlete in the middle of the defense. He’s a solid run defender with incredible strength from his weightlifting background and an impressive motor. Billings has surprising burst from sideline to sideline for his size, which allows him to have a huge effect on outside runs as well. If a running back has to cut back inside, Billings will be chasing him down and is a sure tackler if he gets his hands on the ball carrier. He is a state record power-lifter setting a 2,010-pound mark in high school between his 805 squat, 705 deadlift and 500 bench that broke former World’s Strongest Man and WWE superstar Mark Henry record. This elite strength gives him the ability to dominate at the point of attack if he can get proper leverage and he can use that strength to shed blocks and split double teams. However, being that strong has possibly made him a little stiffer, which holds him back as a rusher and gives him some issues with leverage. Because of this, he has not had much production as a pass rusher with only 3.5 sacks and 12 QB hits in his 47 career games. Overall, Billings should be a nice get for the Browns who will provide a valuable run stuffer and quality DL depth and it’s possible that he could tap into his potential and break out in a big way if he keeps getting better.