Could Devon Still Be the Best Defensive Tackle in the Draft?

Story posted March 22, 2012 in

Devon still

With the recent completion of the 2012 NFL Combine, many football fans have witnessed some of the best prospects in the country display their skills. One of the most highly touted players going into the Combine was Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still.

Still is a 6-foot-5, 303-pound tackle who considers himself "hands down, the best defensive tackle in the draft." His skills and résumé may just back that claim up.

Still had the best season of his college career in 2011. In 13 games for the Nittany Lions, Still had 55 tackles, 17 of them for a loss. He also recorded 4.5 sacks, a blocked pass and a forced fumble.

The Wilmington, Delaware native is one of the top defensive linemen in a draft with a lot of talent on the line. Other names like Quinton Coples from North Carolina, Michael Brockers from LSU, and Dontari Poe of Memphis have been popping up along with Still's at the top.

Still ran a 5.08 second 40-yard dash, while jumping 29.5 inches in the vertical jump and achieving 26 reps on the 225-pound bench press, maintaining his status as a first round defensive lineman. He is considered one of the top "safe" picks in the draft, with great size and strength and an ability to get off the line quickly.

Scouts are also impressed with his ability to push back offensive lineman, which allows him to excel as a run defender. His ability to take on multiple blockers gives him the ability to take up a lot of room in the middle, and he still manages to adjust and make plays in those situations. Still can fit in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme with his size and skill set.


Still is two former NFL players, giving him a strong bloodline for NFL success. His cousin Art Still was the second overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft, while his cousin Levon Kirkland was a second round pick in the 1992 NFL Draft. Art Still played defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, appearing in four Pro Bowls with the Chiefs. Kirkland was an inside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles, appearing in two Pro Bowls. Still's cousins combined for 22 seasons in the NFL, and he has the potential to have similar successes in the pros.

Questions about Still's past injury problems may be the only thing that could hurt his draft stock. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2007 preseason drills and broke his ankle in 2008, causing him to redshirt his first season and miss his entire redshirt freshman year. While Still bounced back in his sophomore campaign in 2009, his durability will continue to be a question mark.

There also may be questions about his sack count. At times, Still has been shown to lack the closing speed in the backfield to sack the quarterback. But as long as he is being looked at as a run stopper clogging up the middle, his low number of sacks should not be a problem. Teams looking for a player in the mold of Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams, one of the NFL's premier run stopping linemen, will find their man in Devon Still.

Still's skill set makes him attractive to a number of teams that need to bolster the middle of their defense. The Denver Broncos will give him a look if he is still on the board when they are on the clock with the 25th pick in the first round. Still will be a big help to their up and coming linebacker Von Miller, who will see even more opportunities to make plays with a guy like Still taking on multiple blockers.

Another team that will give Still a look is the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle surprised analysts last season with a solid defense thanks in large part to its skilled young secondary. With the signing of quarterback Matt Flynn improving their passing game, the Seahawks will look to the defensive side of the ball in the draft, and Still will be an enticing choice when they select with the 12th pick.

Other teams like the Carolina Panthers (9th pick), Philadelphia Eagles (15th pick), New York Jets (16th pick), San Diego Chargers (18th pick) and Tennessee Titans (20th pick) will give Still a long look when their selections come up on draft day. Whoever takes Devon Still will add a valuable commodity to their run defense.


Zach Hottinger is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email