There has been NFL buzz surrounding former West Virginia defensive tackle Darius Stills for at least two years now. The Fairmont, West Virginia native could have declared for the draft after the 2019 season but instead chose to return to WVU for his senior year.
On Thursday, Stills participated in WVU’s pro day with five other former WVU players and two players from the University of Charleston in front of a crowd of 27 NFL scouts. Following the event, Stills said that extra year with the Mountaineers helped him more than he even thought it would.
“It benefitted me a lot,” Stills said. “This extra year of college underneath my belt helped me realize a lot in terms of leadership, in terms of really just being the best football player I can be mentally to take that next step into the NFL.”
At 6-foot-1 and about 280 pounds, Stills does not possess the prototypical size for an NFL nose tackle. A few years ago, Stills’s size might have been a turnoff for a lot of pro teams, but he said the professional success of players like Aaron Donald (6-foot-1), Grady Jarrett (6-foot-1) and Poona Ford (5-foot-11) has changed that perception recently.
“I think [Donald’s] definitely changed the narrative a lot,” Still said. “They say Aaron Donald is a one-in-a-generational player but I’m trying to change the narrative also. [I want to show] that there’s not only one undersized defensive tackle that can do it, there’s a lot of them that can.”
Stills followed up a break-out 2019 season with 25 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and an interception in 2020. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a consensus All-American.
“I’ve talked to about 12 teams already and they all just like my quickness, my intensity, my motor,” Stills said. “They like how mean I play with me being undersized. They like how explosive I am, they like how I work. … I’ve talked to the [Cincinnati] Bengals the most. They call me every other day, they like me a lot.”
The 2021 NFL Draft will begin on April 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. Stills said he will spend the next month continuing to train in Florida and will rent a hotel suite to watch the draft with his family.