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Stills enters NFL with chip on shoulder

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — As the seventh and final round of the National Football League torture chamber that the league calls its draft began, West Virginia’s All-American defensive tackle Darius Stills had had enough sitting around watching and waiting, something he’d done for three days.

And so, he took to Twitter.

“Ain’t No Way All These DTs Better Then Me,” he tweeted, adding an emoji with its head tilted laughing.

He was right, you know.

There was no way that many defensive tackles in the country were better than him. No way half of them were.

He was a consensus All-American. He was the defensive lineman of the year in the Big 12.

He was a big-time player in a Power 5 conference in the middle of the defensive line that anchored the fourth best defense in the country.

And he was passed over for 259 picks.


The funny thing was, they gave him little but positive feedback in their dealings with him.

True, they him know he wasn’t built like the prototype defensive tackle in the NFL. On their website, they listed — if one may make a pun here — his shortcomings.

Undersized as interior defender.

Works with stubby arms and small hands.

Undisciplined approach leaves gaping holes at times.

Too content to backdoor the block rather than fight past reach attempt.

Will run wild through the gap, wrecking his defense’s fits.

Angle blocks can knock him off his base.

Needs to be able to carry more quality mass.

Doesn’t have length necessary to control the point of attack.

It’s a wonder with those “stubby arms” and “small hands” that he can shave or brush his teeth in the morning, let alone toss arounds 320-pound offensive linemen and 240-pounds fullbacks.

See, here’s the deal about sports today.

No one has the guts to stand up and take a chance. There’s so much money involved that coaches, executives and even media types simply turn to a computer to tell them what’s right ... a computer that can tell you how much you have in your bank account, how much your car has in its tank but not what you have in your heart and in your head

Why have analytics taken over the sports world?

Because if a coach calls a play and it doesn’t work, he can blame his analyst and show that on third and 8 in the third quarter of games it is leading in by from 3 to 7 points, running a draw play has X amount of risk and X amount of reward.

So, he calls it.

“Not my fault!” he says when it doesn’t work “Argue with Ned Nerd, our computer guy.”

It permeates every sport. Baseball takes out good pitchers and brings in bad ones because they have thrown so many pitches, trying a win a game a week from now when they have to win the game today.

They shift and give up a bunt hit ... but baseball doesn’t want base runners. It wants base joggers, the computer saying you can’t be put out on the bases if you hit the ball over the fence.

Football’s no different. You have to run a 4.3 to do this and be able to do so many reps with 300 pounds to do that, and they actually judge you on that when they know no one ever blocked anyone in the weight room.

The fun has been taken out of all sports in this quest for mathematical perfection that doesn’t really exist.

And, so because of it, a kid like Darius Stills spends three days chasing a carrot on a stick, unable to reach it because his arms are too short, his hands too small, his balance not good ... yet there’s so much film out there to dispute everything they come up with that you can’t believe it.

Computers don’t make athletes, God does.

Put Tom Brady in a computer and you come up with a sixth-round pick who can’t play. Marc Bulger came from the same computer.

I suspect if they had given Pat White a fair chance rather than pigeon holing him as a “wildcat” quarterback he might have become as exciting a player as Lamar Jackson now is.

Can’t imagine, really, how excruciating it was for Darius Stills to sit there in his living room through these three days and wonder how many others joined him, not having played themselves out of the draft but having been eliminated because their arms were too stubby and their hands too small.