Sunday, June 30, 2024

Belief Is Bears May Have Their Andrew Billings Replacement


Many think T.J. Edwards was by far the biggest steal of the 2023 off-season for the Chicago Bears. There is no question the linebacker was outstanding for them last year. However, a lot of his success came from the presence of another free agent addition that didn’t get the same hype. Andrew Billings was somewhat of a journeyman through the past few years of his career, but he still carried a reputation as a solid defensive tackle who could help a front. He proved that in a big way, anchoring the Bears’ retooled defensive line to establish one of the NFL’s best run defenses.

This was a big reason the team moved quickly to give him a contract extension through the 2025 season. He was money well spent and should remain a key contributor for the time being. However, it is important to note that his 30th birthday is next March. While that doesn’t mean he will automatically stop playing well, it does give the Bears some incentive to start searching for an eventual replacement. Draft expert Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report believes they may have found one in undrafted rookie Keith Randolph.

“Randolph is a solid run defender who can plug up his gap,” Bleacher Report scout Matt Holder wrote in the undrafted rookie’s predraft report. “He has impressive upper-body strength to lock out offensive linemen, and he appears to have long arms to maximize the amount of extension he gets on blocks.”

Randolph can grow into the role currently claimed by Andrew Billings in the middle of the defense. Billings does turn 30 next year and becomes a free agent after the 2025 campaign.

Randolph has the tools to fill Andrew Billings’ role.

Size and power are abundant with him. He routinely shows he can take on double-teams without being driven back. Randolph was somewhat overlooked at Illinois because he shared a line with eventual 2nd round pick Jer’Zhan Newton. Throw in the fact that Randolph isn’t known for creating a lot of pressure on the interior, and it’s easy to see why he didn’t get picked. That won’t deter the Bears. They have an excellent coaching staff equipped to mold him into the best player he can be. Nose tackles still have great value in the NFL. Andrew Billings proved that last year.

Randolph isn’t a premier athlete. Creating havoc with quickness and burst is not where he wins. His game is of the throwback variety: size, power, sturdy lower body, and violent hands. He won’t fill up the stat sheet every week, but he can be somebody opposing offensive linemen don’t like dealing with. Billings is the same way. He can be a classic guy who does the dirty work, allowing teammates to shine. Every team needs players like this. The fact he’s a homegrown kid would make it even better.

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Dr. Steven Sallie
Dr. Steven Sallie
May 31, 2024 11:23 am

I hope he sticks. Every team should have at least one player like him on the DL. And the Bears need all the help they can get there until the cuts.

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