Dante Stills Poised For Breakout Season At West Virginia

Brian Lamb
Brian Lamb is the owner of NFL Draft Lounge and has covered the NFL Draft since 2011. Brian is also the owner of the Infinity Sports Network, which NFL Draft Lounge belongs to.

Last season, we were fortunate enough to see glimpses of what Dante Stills is capable of for the Mountaineers. Stills only appeared in 447 defensive snaps in 2019, but racked up an impressive 26 total tackles and 8 sacks. In 2020, Dante Stills is set to be a pivotal part of the West Virginia Mountaineers defense.

Currently, I have an early 2021 NFL Draft day three grade on Stills. In this article, as we continue our 2020 Summer Scouting series, I’ll examine what makes Dante Stills special and why I believe he’s poised for a breakout season. I’ll also explain why I think it’s possible that Dante Stills could end up as an early day two 2021 NFL Draft prospect.

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The Background

Dante Stills is the son of Gary Stills, a former linebacker for West Virginia. Additionally, Gary Stills had a successful NFL career, mostly for the Kansas City Chiefs. Dante’s brother, Darius, is also on the Mountaineers as an interior defensive lineman.

Out of high school, Dante Stills was the top recruit out of the state of West Virginia. 247 Sports had stills listed as the 124th prospect nationally, while Rivals had him at 116th, and ESPN at 187th. Additionally, Dante Stills was a 2017 Under Armour All-American and on the West Virginia AA All-State team. Stills had offers from Michigan State, University of Miami, and Oklahoma, but chose to join his brother at West Virginia.

In 2018, during his freshman season, Stills had sixteen total tackles and three sacks in limited snaps. Despite the limited snaps that Dante Stills saw, he was still able to rank third on the West Virginia defense in sacks. These stats were enough for Stills to be named to the Freshman All-American team by The Athletic and ESPN.

Last season, Stills saw an increase in playing time, and didn’t disappoint, once again leading the team in sacks. With Dante Stills seeing an expanded role in 2020, he could have another breakout season for the West Virginia Mountaineers. On the next page, let’s take a look at what I like about Dante Stills, and why I have him rising up my 2021 NFL Draft board.


What I Like About Dante Stills

As I’ve mentioned, West Virginia defensive lineman is talented 2021 NFL Draft prospect. He’s shown that he can be productive in limited snaps on defense, so the 2020 season should be a breakout one for Stills. Below, I’ve added in some highlights from the 2019 season. Let’s take a look.


Quickness Off The Edge

With Dante Stills and his brother Darius upfront, the West Virginia Defense is a versatile one. On this play, Dante Stills comes off the edge as a 3-4 defensive end. He displays a good use of his hands to get a step on the offensive tackle. From there, he displays nice acceleration to get behind the line quickly and attack the quarterback. I don’t know if Dante Stills will translate as well at defensive end in the NFL, but nonetheless, this is a fantastic effort overall.


Quickness Off The Line Of Scrimmage

Be warned – this play happens rather quickly. Dante Stills is on the left of your screen. He displays good quickness as he gets off the line of scrimmage, which allows him to get a good first step. He maneuvers through traffic and disrupts the running back. While he isn’t able to bring down the running back, he does cause a disruption that allows his teammates to end the play. Like I said, it’s a quick play. However, it’s once again a great effort on the play.


High Motor and Effort

This was a play that stood out as I watched his film. Stills attempts to pull the offensive tackle off balance, but isn’t able to do so, however, in his defense, he’s quite often able to do so. Dante Stills drives through the offensive lineman and keeps it moving off the edge. As the quarterback steps up to avoid the rush, Stills is able to get free and sets his sights on the ball.


What I Dislike About Dante Stills

I’ve shown how impressive Dante Stills can be for West Virginia, so let’s take a look at where he struggles. I’ve included two games below that I feel highlight the inconsistencies in his game. For the first play below, we head back to Waco for the game against Baylor.


Consistent Effort

Dante Stills is double-teamed off the line of scrimmage and forced away from the running lane, rendering him ineffective. However, as he’s been able to prove on the previous page, Stills has the ability to outplay offensive linemen. I would have liked to see Stills use his quickness to get outside and stop the run, or at least some quickness out of the spin move to key the ball.


Aggressive Use Of Hands

Dante Stills is on the right side of your screen. While he is held and then drug down to the ground by the right tackle, I think he could’ve been more aggressive on this play. Had Stills been more aggressive with his use of hands, he could’ve easily gotten outside the tackle to disrupt the pocket.


The Competition

The biggest competition that Dante Stills faces might be in his brother Darius. The two West Virginia defensive linemen are both quite impressive players. However, one of them has to come out on top.

Outside of West Virginia, I feel like the biggest competition for Dante Stills is in the SEC. Tyler Shelvin from LSU, Phidarian Mathis from Alabama, and Tedarrell Slaton from the University of Florida all should be factored into the equation.


The Verdict

Dante Stills is a solid defensive lineman for the West Virginia Mountaineers. I currently have him with an early day three grade in the 2021 NFL Draft, but I do believe that he has the ability and skillset to propel himself into the second or third round.

As I’ve shown in this article, Dante Stills is a talented player that displays quickness off the edge. While I’m not certain that he’ll be able to play the defensive end position in the NFL, he has shown the ability to do so at the collegiate level. In addition to his quickness, Stills also displays a high motor and a knack for finding the ball quickly in the trenches.

Like all players, Dante Stills has his flaws. I’d like to see him play with quickness more consistently, as well as show more aggressiveness with his hands. Nonetheless, Stills will be a fun watch this season for the Mountaineers.

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