04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Bengals picks: Round 2/53 - Devon Still, DT, 6-5, 307, Penn State...A little bit of a surprise that they addressed the defensive line early but he gives the Bengals another solid pass rusher up the middle. - The Sports Xchange
Still did nothing to diminish his stock in the eyes of NFL evaluators at the 2012 Scouting Combine, but the crop of defensive tackles appears to be deeper than expected.
"I think hands down I'm the best defensive tackle in this draft, just because I feel like I want it more," said Still, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2-rated defensive tackle prospect behind LSU's Michael Brockers.
Since a dominant Outback Bowl performance to end the 2010 season -- 3.5 tackles for loss against Florida center and Dolphins first-round pick Mike Pouncey -- Still was convinced he'd make a living on Sundays. Like Brockers, Still has to shake similar questions from scouts about whether he's a late bloomer or one-year wonder.
After tearing two left knee ligaments as a freshman and a broken ankle in fall camp the following season, Still said he fully dedicated himself to being a football player before the 2011 season. He credits defensive line coach Larry Johnson for keeping him motivated and schooling him on the finer points of on-field technique and how to watch film.
"I think I had a very average year my junior year and I never strive for being mediocre. I try to be the best that I can be," Still said. "I put in a lot of overtime during the offseason just to prepare myself to be one of the best in the country for my senior year and make my mark at Penn State."
Still said Penn State left guard Johnnie Troutman, who was also at the Scouting Combine, deserves credit in his emergence from reserve to Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. They became so familiar with each other squaring off in practice four or five days a week that by last season, one-on-one matchups became a test of fortitude. Troutman said the game slowed down for Still, who stopped over-thinking about his responsibility within the scheme and let his ability take over.
"It definitely helped me over the past three years playing against a guy like him," Troutman said. "For his size he's a real quick guy so you've got to move your feet and don't blink because if you blink and punch and miss he's going to be by you."
Penn State might be Linebacker U, but the Nittany Lions are accustomed to sending defensive linemen to the NFL. From Courtney Brown to Michael Haynes to Aaron Maybin, Jared Odrick to Tamba Hali to Cameron (Derek) Wake, the tradition is tangible.
While Penn State transitions to a new era under new coach Bill O'Brien, Still remains cognizant of repaying the program that helped him reach the doorstep of a lifelong dream.
"What drives me is that when I first started playing football, whenever I do something, I'm very competitive," he said. "I want to be the best at it. When I got injured my first two years at Penn State, a lot of people said I wouldn't be the same player as I was when I showed up on campus. I think that drove me just to prove everybody wrong. To this day, I don't think I'm where I need to be right now. I want to make my mark in the NFL, just as I did at Penn State, and become one of the best."
Pass rush: Comes fast and hard off the snap if given a step by backpedalling linemen in pass protection. Will work through the whistle. Tries to swim past his man when there is room to maneuver, bothering the quarterback but rarely getting there. Effective taking up two blockers and flashes some quickness outside on twists.
Run defense: Most productive against the run when slanting into the action. Strong at the point when keeping his pads low, but his height means a constant battle to prevent linemen from getting under his pads. Fights through doubles, at times still finding the ballcarrier through traffic. His anchor against doubles when not attacking the pocket is inconsistent; blown off the line too often. Good effort to reach ballcarriers coming into his area; keeps his eyes on them and can make the play even when moving back or losing his balance. Must work on defeating cut blocks with his hands.
Explosion: Combination of size and strength has not yet been harnessed. Inconsistent off the snap, more often last one to move than the first. Does not knock back better linemen. Fatigue becomes an issue later in game, losing his explosiveness off the ball and hustle.
Strength: Rarely dominates his man at the point. Capable of shedding with strong hands and tossing aside guards if their heads are down, but could do so more regularly.
Tackling: Wide body and long, strong arms envelop backs running between the tackles. Good vision and strength lets him bring down backs by a shoelace, even if falling to the ground. Possesses nimble feet and fair change of direction for his size; chases ballcarriers around the line and can stay with elusive backs after they make a move. Gives some chase to the sideline on quick throws and when backs try to run outside.
Intangibles: Suffered torn left ACL/MCL in August 2007, broken left ankle in August 2008. Cousin Art Still played for the Kansas City Chiefs. Another cousin, Levon Kirkland, was a standout linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers.