The 2023 NFL Draft class features a stacked group of defenders, and West Virginia Mountaineers DE Dante Stills is a name to watch as the draft approaches following a productive collegiate career. While most of the conversation has been focused on the top names in the class, what does Stills’ scouting report suggest about his NFL Draft stock?
Dante Stills NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive End
- School: West Virginia
- Year: Fifth-Year Senior
While they might not have been in the national spotlight, West Virginia has had some incredible players walk through its doors. After a successful five-year journey in Morgantown, Stills will be remembered as one of the best players on the defensive side of the ball.
A four-time member of the Times West Virginia All-Area Football team, Stills was the No. 1 ranked prospect for West Virginia and made a rather obvious decision to go to attend college in his home state. Stills’ father, Gary, was an All-Big East linebacker at WVU and was a third-round selection in 1999 by the Kansas City Chiefs and played 10 years in the league.
Stills’ brother, Darius, was a consensus All-American and All-Big 12 defensive lineman for the Mountaineers but went undrafted and remains a free agent.
Stills made his debut as a true freshman against Tennessee and registered 16 tackles for the year, including 13 solo, three sacks, six tackles for loss, and two force fumbles, receiving a Freshman All-America selection by the Athletic and ESPN for his play.
As a sophomore in 2019, Stills played in 12 games while making three starts and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors as he finished with 24 tackles and tied for No. 4 in the Big 12 in sacks per game.
During the tumultuous 2020 season, Stills started all 10 games at defensive end and received both first-team and second-team All-Big 12 nominations while recording 35 tackles and finishing 11th in the Big 12 with 10.5 tackles for loss.
A near consensus first-team All-Big 12 selection, Stills was 10th in the conference in sacks, fourth in tackles for loss, and even registered the first interception of his career against Oklahoma State. As a fifth-year senior in 2022, Stills became the school record-holder for games played at 58, including 36 starts.
He also set the record for career tackles for a loss at 52.5, sits No. 4 in program history with 23.5 sacks, and finished his career once again on the first-team All-Big 12 list.
In the months since his career at West Virginia concluded, Stills has been gearing up for the next level, including showcasing his skills at the East-West Shrine Bowl and at the NFL Combine. The fifth-year senior measured in at 6’3 1/2″ and 286 pounds with 32 3/8″ arms.
He also lit up the stopwatches with a 4.85 40-yard dash, including a 1.7-second 10-yard split. While he did not run at the WVU Pro Day, Stills, unhappy with his Combine performance, improved his bench press result from 20 to 26 reps at 225.
Additionally, when Stills hears his name called during the NFL Draft, it won’t be the first time as he was selected in the second round (44th overall) of the 2023 USFL Draft by the New Orleans Breakers. A player chosen by the USFL can still be selected in the NFL Draft so long as they did not sign a contract with the USFL team that drafted them.
As to when Stills might hear his name called later this month, we need to examine his scouting report to see where his strengths and areas for improvement lie.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Dante Stills
Strengths: Athletic defensive line prospect with potential at a number of positions. Moves well around the field, has good change-of-direction skills, and is rarely off his feet. Quickly gets his hands up and uses them to protect himself. Displays solid strength and plays with excellent knee bend as well as proper pad level. Collapses down the line to pursue plays, rushes the edge with speed, and flashes power in his game.
Weaknesses: Easily out-positioned by blockers. Must develop more pass-rush moves. Seems to give up on plays rather easily.
Overall: Stills was a productive defender for West Virginia and made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage the past four years. I’d like to see him fill out his frame as well as get stronger and then kick inside to defensive tackle, where he can be a productive interior pass rusher.
Dante Stills Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 6’3 1/2″
- Weight: 286 pounds
- Arm Length: 32 3/8″
- Hand Size: 9 5/8″
- Bench Press: 20
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.85 seconds
- Vertical Jump: 28.5″
- Broad Jump: 9’5″
West Virginia DE Dante Stills Current Draft Projection
You are in luck if you’re an NFL team heading into the draft that needs help on the defensive line. Although Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson, and Myles Murphy are some of the highest-ranked players in the entire class, Stills will be waiting quite a bit longer to hear his name called.
Although he won’t be mentioned in the same category, Stills will hear his name called during the NFL Draft process. Currently, he’s the 253rd-ranked player on Tony Pauline’s Big Board as the DE22 with a 3.28 grade and a draft projection that places him in the seventh round.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Stills has a relentless motor, as some of his stats would indicate. But will that work in the NFL? More than likely, Stills will find himself competing for a rotational role and one of the final spots on a 53-man roster.
Even if his opportunities are somewhat limited early on, Stills will need to maximize every rep as the undersized defensive lineman will be auditioning not only for his team but the 31 others who might be willing to take a shot on him if the opportunity arises.
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