DT Darius Stills, West Virginia (6’1”, 285)

Background:

Appeared in nine games as a freshman, then followed that up with 12-3.5-1.0 as a rotational reserve in 2018. Stepped into the starting nose tackle role and went 43-12.0-6.0 as a junior, then posted 25-7.5-3.5 as a senior.

Positives:

Productive defensive lineman who plays everything from the zero-technique to five-technique. Was on the field for a significant number of snaps during the games reviewed, being more of a regular player than many of his peers. Functional strength is better than anticipated. Does a good job of locating and flowing to the ball; seems to be around the ball more often than his statistics suggest. Scrapes down the line pretty well while keeping his shoulders square. Has some suddenness to his game and is capable of working his swim and rip moves to make his way through traffic. Possesses good lateral quickness to slip by blockers in the passing game; also capable of executing twists/stunts. A pretty good athlete in a short area who has the change-of-direction and quickness to finish ballcarriers when he’s able to get penetration. Has some bend when pursuing passers from behind, with above-average closing burst. Gives very good effort in pursuit.

Negatives:

On the smaller side for a pro interior lineman, especially for a nose tackle, which may limit the range of techniques teams consider him for relative to what he was asked to do in college. Tends to get upright out of his stance instead of firing out, which leads him to idle around the line of scrimmage instead of knifing his way into the backfield. Can get stuck on blocks and walled off when his initial move is unsuccessful.

Summary:

Won’t meet every team’s size requirements on the defensive line, but put together some impressive tape in school, showing impressive quickness and stamina to generate pressure and disrupt plays by shooting gaps, with functional strength which is also above-average for his size. Looks like a solid bet to be able to work his way into the defensive line rotation on an even front with one-gap principles, potentially as either an under tackle or a nose tackle.

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