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Preseason Scouting Notes: Dante Stills, DL, West Virginia

Junior | 6’3″, 275 lbs | Fairmont, WV

 

A disruptive penetrator with active hands, block shedding ability, and pass rush production

 

Overview:

Dante Stills is the third in a line of WVU football standouts in the same family. His father Gary was and All-Big East performer who went onto a successful NFL career, while his older brother Darius is currently a fellow All-Big 12 performer along side him on the Mountaineer defensive front. The younger Stills tied for the most sacks on the team in 2020 at 7, and is the active leader in career sacks with 10 while sitting tied for the same honor in TFLs. He spends most of his time in the B gaps as a 4i- or 3-technique in the Mountaineer 3-4 scheme, but will bump inside or outside on occasion. He earned Second-Team All-Big 12 last season after earning Freshman All-American honors the previous year.

Strengths:

– Seamless and easy block shedding
– Turns the corner and rips through pass blocks well
– Flashes a good bull rush that forces OL onto their heels
– Executes stunts well
– Gets hands up to deflect/bat passes down if he can’t get to the QB
– Active hands and continues hand fighting throughout the play
– Sound and effective tackler
– Very disruptive with gap penetration

Areas To Improve:

– Not very gap disciplined in the run game
– Accuracy and impact of initial punch
– Get off needs more initial explosion and overall speed
– Can struggle with double teams
– Tends to play with a high pad level
– Can get knocked off balance in pass rush
– Motor is far better in pass rush than in run pursuit

Injury Concerns:

N/A

Projection:

Dante Stills has the tools to be solid rotational DT at the next level.  He projects as a 3-tech pass rusher in a 4-3 scheme due to his ability to penetrate and get to the QB. He could develop into a more well rounded 3-tech if he can become more sound with his gap discipline and add anchor strength. His disruption ability will be viewed as an asset by more aggressive defenses, and his pass rush penetration will be favored by all. Teams looking for a boost in their interior pass rush will look towards him late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 next spring.

What to Watch In 2020:

Stills has the chance to raise his draft stock considerably if his 2020 stats increase at the same rate as his 2019 numbers did.  He will need to focus on his explosion off the ball with his first step and initial punch. Consistently playing with a lower pad level will help him combat double teams more effectively, and allow him to be better at maintaining gap discipline. His backfield disruption and pass rush effectiveness will definitely get him NFL looks, but improving on the smaller and more technical aspects of his game will allow him to raise his draft stock.