During last week’s NFL Combine, many reports and rumors surfaced about April’s NFL Draft in Kansas City. Among those was a report that West Virginia defensive tackle Dante Stills had met with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Stills — who is the son of former Kansas City defensive end Gary Stills, who spent seven seasons with the team from 199 through 2005 — was a very productive college player who is looking to rise up draft boards.
Here’s what to know about this draft prospect who is on the team’s radar:
Stills was a four-star recruit from the state of West Virginia, ranked as the state’s top recruit and seventh-best defensive end in the country. His pedigree comes not only from his father, but also his brother Darius, who was also a great player at West Virginia. Darius entered the NFL Draft after the 2020 season and had a short offseason stint with Kansas City the following summer.
Dante, however, has become the more accomplished of the two. Over the last five seasons, Stills was named first-team All-Big 12 twice and made the second team in the previous two seasons. Over 55 career games, Stills produced 53 tackles for loss and 24.5 sacks — while also forcing five fumbles.
This week, Stills measured at over 6’3” and 286 pounds. He came in with a relatively short arm length at 32 3/8 inches. In the athletic testing, Stills ran a 4.85-second 40-yard dash — the third-highest time among defensive tackle prospects. He also had one of the group’s fastest three-cone times, finishing the drill in 7.38 seconds.
Stills was a versatile player on West Virginia’s defensive front. He had the stout frame to play on the inside, but also the movement skills to come off the edge and create pressure.
West Virginia DL Dante Stills revealed that he and the #Chiefs had a meeting prior to the Combine.— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) March 3, 2023
He played all over the line, but coming in at 6'3" and 286 pounds, he'll have to find an interior spot. He has the first step, strong & active hands to be an active run defender pic.twitter.com/KzV9qsMcAM
When he was on the inside, Stills used a good first step and active, strong hands to create quick penetration — or just fill his gap against the run. He needs that quick first step because he doesn’t have the mass to hold up on the inside without creating momentum into the engagement.
Stills would rush from the edge frequently, & racked up 24.5 sacks in his college career because of it— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) March 3, 2023
Has impressive overall movement skills for his size. Knows how to hand fight as an edge rusher pic.twitter.com/un39llS2BF
When he’s on the edge, his size prevents him from being fast up the arc. He makes up for it by playing with good leverage and using his hands like a true edge rusher: grabbing wrists and trying different moves. He also plays with his head up, reading and reacting well to screens or quarterbacks leaving the pocket.
Stills has enough power in his hands to be a pain in the butt for OTs, but can also bring the first step with it to penetrate on inside moves pic.twitter.com/FK1NRwZvuD— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) March 3, 2023
At the bare minimum, Stills’ unique combination of athleticism and natural power will give him a chance to be a contributor in a pass-rushing rotation — no matter whether that’s primarily as an inside or outside rusher.
How he fits with the Chiefs
If Stills comes to Kansas City, it’s easier to see him losing some weight to play on the edge instead of the inside. But on passing downs, that could still put him on the interior — similar to how Kansas City used defensive end Mike Danna last season.
The bottom line
Stills was a very productive player in college, has a solid pedigree and fits one of the Chiefs’ positions of need. While he’s likely to be a Day 3 pick, he’s one who provides the versatility that Kansas City wants from its depth defensive linemen.