NFL Draft Scouting Report: Devon Still, DT, Penn State

Devon Still“A defensive leader for a Penn State team in need of one this season, Devon Still emerged into the feature role for this Penn State team in more ways than one. He was able to instill a sense of consistent urgency and focus to his team to which most responded and finished a tumultuous off-the-field season fairly strong outside of the bowl game. His ability to attack the inside and consistently draw multiple blocker focus allowed for versatile rushers on the outside to attack one on ones.

And his developed interior rush moves and suddenness off the snap initially allowed him to be consistently productive, recording a tackle for a loss in almost every game this season and setting the tone consistently for this Penn State defense.”

PLAYER COMPARISON
Fred Robbins
PROJ. DRAFT POSITION
Top 20
INJURY HISTORY
Back, Turf Toe injuries late in 2010-2011 season   
Broken left ankle in 2008 Pre-Season   
Torn left ACL/MCL in 2007 Pre-Season   

CAREER ACOLADES
Finalist for Bednarik, Outland, Angarsk Awards   
Big Ten DPOY, OLOY; Walter Camp All-American   
Graduated in  December (a Redshirt Senior)

KEY STATS
Had a TFL in All But 2 Games in 2011 (Ohio St, Houston)   
55 Tackles, 1 PBU, 17 TFL, 4.5 Sacks in 2011 Season   
39 Tackles, 1 PBU, 10 TFL, 4 Sacks in 2010 Season   
19 Tackles 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks in 2009 Season


Background

Few non-quarterbacks have a chance to show true leadership and devotion to a team, but due to the Penn State scandal, Devon Still emerged as the most vocal and consistent leader for his team, both in the locker room and through his motor on the field. His play and leadership role specifically in the Nebraska game, the first after the allegations came to the forefront and Joe Paterno was fired was remarkable and respected by both his coaches and opposing teams.

Outside of that leadership role, he’s improved his versatility each season, developing more in-depth rush moves, and his production has increased each season. His only incident to question his character was when a fellow defensive linemen, Chris Bell (in 2008) pulled a knife on Still after an alleged cell phone theft. His ability, however, to persevere through major injuries and lead his team through troubling times is a major character note that should benefit Still in the NFL.

 
Athleticism
Still possesses a great length-size combination, a little thin in his lower half for now but plenty of room and time to get stronger. His lack of great lower body girth causes him to struggle with his anchor against polished interior offensive linemen. He keeps his balance through cut blocks, and slides quickly laterally both to avoid blockers in space as well as to stunt and attack inside-out. He gets skinny in the hole on quick, initial rushes across the linemen, splitting double teams well with quickness and inside leverage. He can redirect a blocker well with hand strength and flexibility in his attack of angles.

He can get low and drive outside shoulder on outside stunts as well when asked to, and that combined with his ability to split double teams opens up the door to potentially be a 5-technique in the NFL as a possibility. His lack of ability to stay low and power through blockers is an issue, most of which has to do with his body length and type, but his quickness, smooth-ness in space, and versatility as a rusher thanks to his athleticism allows him to have the athletic ceiling of a high draft selection.

Ability
Devon StillStill can get off the line quickly, but doesn’t do it with enough consistency to be consistently effective in the NFL in his quick rush moves he’s utilized in his college career unless he can stay lower off the snap. He does have a suddenness to his game and rarely wastes steps in his pursuit in rushes, showcasing lateral quickness both across the center and to the outside. A fantastic motor and showed up in each and every game this year despite hardships on the Penn State program.

He tracks the ball very well, and his vision combined with his motor allow him to consistently be around the ball in the 0-5 yard range. He closes with explosiveness in tackles when he can utilize his rush moves, both on the quarterback and in space. He can reposition his rush and angle to the ball well in space as well. His suddenness to his spot in rushing as well as his length and fluidity allow him to position himself with his feet consistently well versus a variety of offensive lines.

Technique
Still’s length and upper body strength allows him to engulf and wrap-up very well as a tackler. He is strong in space and can deliver a redirecting punch to a runner as well as keeping his balance in traffic to get a hand and deter a runner even more. He could slap and release from blocks much more effectively with his hands, and once a blocker gets inside hand placement, he quickly loses ground in his pursuit. Part of that as well is he getting too high in his pursuit if his initial rush fails or if he tries a double move against a more developed interior offensive linemen.

He can over-extend, especially in run support, and keeps head down, slowing his drive and release to make a play in the backfield. Still has a wide depth of rush moves he utilizes frequently. His inside swim move is most effective, as he can quickly get to spot off snap, punches and gets skinny over the top very effectively, though his need to stay quick off the snap may negate that at times against better interior offensive linemen. Also his rip and counter inside-out rush have improved over this season, showing his versatility as a multi-gap rusher. He’ll need to drive lower and improve his leg drive to be a more effective power rusher in NFL.

Strength/Power
Devon Still is very powerful in his upper half, driving well with his arms and punching well initially off the line, as well as tackling well. He can redirect blocks well and rip effectively underneath with a powerful burst. His lower half could get thicker and stronger, as he struggles to drive and hold ground with multiple, developed inside blockers, and his lack of great leg drive coupled with his consistently high stance after initial burst cause him to struggle to consistently disrupt plays in the middle with leverage and power.

He can angle his body well as an interior rusher, but needs to drive lower and gain inside leverage, not an easy task for his size. He can drive off the line if he stays low thanks to his explosiveness, but can’t consistently sustain that power rush consistently. His developed rush moves initially and counter rush moves generate his pressure and disruption at the line, but he’ll need to continue to sink and drive at the next level to fill a 1-technqiue in NFL.

Summary
A defensive leader for a Penn State team in need of one this season, Devon Still emerged into the feature role for this Penn State team in more ways than one. He was able to instill a sense of consistent urgency and focus to his team to which most responded and finished a tumultuous off-the-field season fairly strong outside of the bowl game. His ability to attack the inside and consistently draw multiple blocker focus allowed for versatile rushers on the outside to attack one on ones. And his developed interior rush moves and suddenness off the snap initially allowed him to be consistently productive, recording a tackle for a loss in almost every game this season and setting the tone consistently for this Penn State defense. His length and size combination both aid in his nose tackle abilities, as he can reach and extend to redirect in counter rushes as well as a run stuffer, and deter his NFL potential nose tackle job, thanks to him coming off the snap too high at times and struggling to disengage against more polished interior linemen he faced this season.

He plays with a very high motor, consistently generating pressure, forcing the offense to run counter runs or forcing quarterbacks to play composed in the pocket. He can open up lanes well for rushing linebackers, though if he could stay lower and produce more leg drive, he could be a more consistent hole-clogger and lane-opener at the NFL level. His ability to play in space as well as angle his body well in interior or outside rushes showcases his athleticism and potential as a high ceiling defensive linemen that has been productive and consistently improved over his career despite still have substantial room to improve, even with his college production. His lower half could get stronger and allow him to sink, extend, and drive more effectively as an interior bull rush, and an improvement in inside hand placement could do wonders for his ability to counter rush even further. Still a bit raw in his body build and ability to play with leverage, he showcased his intangibles, athleticism, ability to redirect in the run game and development in his rush moves this year to warrant a high draft selection and grow into a complete nose tackle.

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