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Hogs Haven Selects Andrew Billings in Annual SB Nation Mock Draft

Defensive line talent is very much a need in Washington, and luckily for Scot McCloughan, there are a host of options in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to everyone who has been actively commenting the last five months or so (haha...just kidding...been more like seven months) about the upcoming NFL Draft. Your input ultimately was an enormous help, as I had to audible moments before my pick.

As we got closer to the annual SB Nation Mock Draft, where each site picks for its team, I was locked in on one particular player: Ryan Kelly.

I make no apologies for the desire to parlay our #21 real estate into a center that many experts feel can be an extremely valuable starter in the NFL for a decade or longer. I have no problem taking the top-rated center at this part of the first round and I am madly in love with the idea of going back-to-back with first round offensive line selections. Further, I would characterize the pairing of Ryan Kelly and Kirk Cousins as a long-term investment in the quarterback position.

My biggest concern was that people would accuse me of reaching for a player that might be a better value in the second round. To make my philosophy clear, if I don't think a player is going to be there when my pick comes due in the next round, he is fair game. That doesn't mean I am looking for ways to pick guys 31 spots higher than they should be picked, but if I am reasonably certain that a player I want will be gone before I get another pick, I am not afraid to pull that trigger.

The only problem is...Ryan Kelly went 18th overall to the Colts. Here I was worried about reaching for a player, and I was being reached over (or would that technically be reached around?) by a team that knows all about solid center play.

I made a quick call to Kory Lichtensteiger, told him to get loose, and started scanning the available player list. I know the Redskins are looking for defensive line help, and I know this draft has talent in that department for days. I have been banking on this defensive line depth to push a guy like Ryan Kelly to me. I have been banking on at least having the chance to consider a player like Eli Apple or Reggie Ragland...even Mackensie Alexander. Our defense would be immediately improved with any of these guys. They were all drafted before I selected.

I gave half a thought to the prospect of taking Corey Coleman or even Laquon Treadwell, but I still have not been able to shake the ghosts of Michael Westbrook and Rod Gardner. I happen to think Corey Coleman will be an immediate gamechanger in the NFL, but he struck me as a luxury pick, given our relative strength at the wide receiver position today. I love the idea of not needing a first-round receiver to beat out our starters the first year, but our defense needs starters today. (I am still not sold on exposing a highly touted top pick to DeSean Jackson, but that is an argument for another day.)

So I circled all the way back to the strength of this first round, which is most assuredly along the defensive line. It allows for a rather perfect marriage between need and talent for the Redskins. I was very much okay with taking Brandon Scherff over Leonard Williams last year, and I would have been equally happy to take Ryan Kelly over a defensive lineman this year, but I wasn't going to get overly cute with the pick. It was time to bring in a player that would stand a 99.9% chance of starting for our team next September.

Andrew Billings can play in both odd- and even-man fronts. His quickness and strength jump off the screen when you watch his highlights and he clearly plays with a lot of energy and hustle. This sounds like a cliche--and kind of is a cliche--but we have been victimized by a lack of hustle on the defensive line in the not-so-distant past. How many 311-pounders do you hear get praised for their "quick-twitch athleticism" these days? I think Billings will come to the NFL and be that kind of dominant up-front guy who stuffs the run and gets to the quarterback. I think you will see highlights of him circling around the line and actually tackling runners from behind (maybe he isn't chasing them down, but running backs will be surprised at his pursuit). I think he has star power because I think he will be a guy whose name gets called out a lot. He won't just be occupying blockers. He won't just be plugging gaps. He is a playmaker. (I actually don't believe he will still be on the board when we pick in the actual draft because of this.)

To me, this pick is as solid a pick as McLovin can want. I think it fits into his strategy perfectly. He bridged the gap last season with a one-year player like Terrance Knighton, because he simply did not have enough draft resources to build the defensive line with blue-chip prospects. Andrew Billings slides right into the seat kept incredibly, extremely warm by Pot Roast. He is a long-term solution to a problem that no good team can afford to have in perpetuity.

I have gotten rather excited about this pick in the last 24 hours, but I would be lying if I told you I would leave Ryan Kelly in the green room if he was still on the board.

Besides, what could go wrong with a first-round pick out of Baylor?