football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
NFL Draft

Darius Stills: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview Series

  • The Draft Network
  • March 13, 2021
  • Share

If your favorite NFL team is looking for an under-the-radar defensive line prospect in this year’s draft, West Virginia’s Darius Stills has all the traits to be one of this year’s best bargain picks in the defensive trenches.

Stills leaves for the next level after establishing himself as West Virginia’s all-time leader in the tackles for loss category with 25.5. 

An experienced, disruptive defender, Stills recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his NFL bloodlines, what about his skill set sets him apart, the scheme he’s most familiar playing in, and how the Mountaineers prepared him for the next level.

JM: You grew up around football. Your father Gary Stills played in the NFL for nine years. What’s your fondest memory of growing up around the game?

DS: My fondest memory was going to the games against the Cleveland Browns when my dad played for the Baltimore Ravens. Those games were always wild. We used to go up to Cleveland for the away games. My dad would always bring us in the locker room after the game. Those were very memorable experiences. That’s when I knew I wanted to start playing football. I thought it was the coolest thing.

JM: I love that. What’s the biggest piece of advice he’s given you as you prepare to embark on your professional playing career?

DS: He’s always told me to be myself and to play the game with maximum effort. He always talks about playing the game the right way. There are no shortcuts to being great. Not every player takes the right approach when it comes to this game. 

I just wanna play the game the way it’s meant to be played. I’m always going to play my heart out. Nobody is ever gonna question my work ethic. I believe in the value of hard work. That value was taught to me at a young age. Nobody will ever question my effort. That’s the biggest lesson he ever taught me.

JM: That’s a terrific lesson. You played alongside your brother Dante Stills, who is also a defensive lineman at West Virginia. That must have been pretty cool.

DS: That was a very unique and special experience. Not a lot of people get to experience college football with their brother. Dante and I, we have a great relationship. We’re incredibly close. We get along well. I’m very thankful that we got to share a field together. We both play the game the same way. I think it showed on the field. Being able to play with my brother was amazing.

JM: How do you reflect on your time at West Virginia?

DS: I did everything I said I was gonna do. I was an All-American. I’m trying to change the narrative. Look at what Aaron Donald is doing right now. Undersized defensive tackles are starting to evolve around the league. I wanna build on that. I loved my time at West Virginia. I put in the work.

JM: Have you encountered the term “undersized” a lot throughout your career? 

DS: I definitely have. I’m going to hear it throughout this entire draft process. That’s the only thing people question about me. It’s all about my size. At the end of the day, I can’t change that. I’m just gonna apply myself and use my size in a good way. I can do that by playing with great leverage and playing with my hands. I’ve made playing with great leverage one of my biggest strengths. 

I used to let it bother me. I didn’t get any college offers until really late in the process. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get an opportunity to play college football. So many teams told me that I was talented but I didn’t have the prototypical size. I’ve always applied myself.

JM: It sounds like your recruiting process was a stressful one.

DS: I only had two Power 5 offers. I had Rutgers and West Virginia. Rutgers was my first offer. Before I had Rutgers, I only had junior college offers. I didn’t think I was gonna go anywhere. Both of my offers came really late in the game during my senior year. I had Rutgers and West Virginia. That was it.

JM: That’s crazy. What did your coaches ask of you within the scheme of their defense?

DS: They asked me to use my ability. I play the game with pure strength, I use quickness, speed, and a great get-off to penetrate gaps and make plays. They knew what my strengths were. I just had to apply those things to our scheme.

JM: What are the three most important traits for a defensive lineman to possess?

DS: Having great hands, very strong hands comes first and foremost. You need to have great hips. Lastly, I would say a quick get-off. You gotta be a dog in the trenches. It’s a grown man’s game in those trenches. You have to establish and hold your ground. You need to have those three things if you want to dominate.

JM: Would you say you’re more developed as a pass rusher or run stopper at this point in time?

DS: I can do both. I play a very balanced game right now. I love rushing the passer. I enjoy getting off the ball and using my quickness and leverage to get after the quarterback. I also like stopping the run. I like doing both.

JM: What’s a weakness in your game that you’re looking to improve throughout this process?

DS: I want to improve how I transition off of blocks. I need to pay closer attention to which move I should utilize instead of having one automatically predetermined in my head. I just need to react better. On film, you’ll see reps where I had the guy extended and I was winning the leverage battle but I need to work on the finish. I want to transition the right way.

JM: Who are some of the best players you ever went up against while at West Virginia?

DS: Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma is a really good player. We didn’t get to play against them this year because of COVID-19, but I always enjoyed my matchups with him. I played against him in my junior year and every snap was a battle.

JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today, Darius. In closing, why should an NFL team use one of their draft picks on Darius Stills?

DS: I’m going to play the game with a chip on my shoulder. My attitude will never change. I always feel like I have something to prove. That’s how I play the game. Whichever team gets me is going to get a dog. I’m gonna get the job done and play at a high level. I want to become one of the greats. I let my play speak for itself. My passion for the game is evident and shows up on tape. They’re gonna get a very good football player.

Filed In

Related Articles

Written By

The Draft Network