It’s Now or Never for these Cincinnati Bengals
Aug 30, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still (75) runs of the field during a time out during the game against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Devon Still was taken in the second round of the 2011. Lining him up alongside Geno Atkins could prove to be a devastating force. With his size and strength he was expected to collapse the middle of the line and occupy interior linemen allowing defensive ends one on one match ups and linebackers the ability to roam and make plays. Coming out of college he was seen as a “safe” and “polished” pick, according to the NFL’s combine site.
Still has yet to develop into the player he was expected to become. He’s rarely seen the field in his two years with the team. Last year he was unable to take advantage of increased opportunities when Geno Atkins suffered a season-ending injury in week nine; he played only 19.5% of defensive snaps last year overall and only 26.7% of snaps following Atkins’ injury while being injured for five of those. He also missed the team’s lone playoff game last year. He was inactive for the second half of his rookie season while also missing the 2012 playoff game. This is a bit of a troubling trend for the young defensive tackle.
Although it’s only his third year, Still is in danger of being completely negated. The Bengals are known for valuing flexibility, so they have trained several of their defensive ends to play at the tackle as well. Margus Hunt, who contributed at tackle in 2013 sparingly, has increased his weight to 291 pounds and supposedly without impacting the athletic ability he’s known for. Wallace Gilberry has been productive at tackle also and the team invested in Will Clark during this year’s draft. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther spoke about how he can envision Clark adding weight and playing him a tackle. Although Still has received some training of his own at defensive end, the team has yet to use him in such a role. One positive for Still is Guenther’s goal of mixing in multiple defensive fronts this year; maybe this could mean some 3-4 looks, which Still was projected to during his pre-draft process. Still may be able to find success within these different looks Guenther intends to use and find himself a more substantial role. If not, Still will find himself buried deep within the depth chart and far from the field.