Penn State won nine games last season. That isn't exactly out of the ordinary for the Nittany Lions in a regular year, but this time they did it without a functioning offense. Indeed, it was the defense that carried the day quite often for PSU, and that dominance started up front with the best defensive line in the Big Ten, anchored by Devon Still.
Devon Still is as explosive as he is large, clocking in at 6'5" and 305 pounds. While suffering the after-effects of turf toe, he ran a 5.08 40 at the NFL combine, then followed that up with a 4.95 40 at Penn State's pro day last week.
And while 40 times for defensive linemen aren't particularly helpful for figuring out how well they can play the position, Still's relatively fast times (while not quite 100 percent) underscore what a quick rush he gets on the ball.
Still's production speaks for itself: 55 tackles and 17 tackles for a loss (including 15 solo TFL, and only one sack, which underscores what a nightmare he was for opposing rushers) in 2011, plus another 10 TFL in 2010. The turf toe that affected Still's sprint times was suffered during Penn State's bowl game against Houston, so Still was clearly not 100 percent at the Ticket City Bowl. Otherwise, his season numbers might have been even gaudier.
There aren't many defensive tackles in the NFL that can split a double team on the interior with any regularity, and fewer still that are in this year's draft. Devon Still is one of those guys, and he's going to be the type of tackle that opposing offenses have to devise a different game plan around. Look for Still to go somewhere in the mid-to-late first round; it would be stunning if he lasted until the second. He's just too good right now to last too long.
Put it this way: Devon Still's ceiling might not be as high as, say, Nick Fairley's was coming out of Auburn, but his floor is way, way higher.