I was surprised to see how active his hands were. He’s not overly dynamic and his hand speed isn’t going to overwhelm blockers but he’s urgent and persistent, actively chopping or pressing as he works to gain ground in passing situations.
Nebraska defensive tackle Ben Stille projects as a rotational defender in the NFL. Stille doesn’t have an overly dynamic athletic profile and his role at Nebraska has largely asked him to serve as an A-gap defender. I’m not sure he’s got the mass to serve in such a role at the pro level. I do think traditional 3-4 defenses will appreciate the opportunity Stille provides to play as a 4i/5 alignment in their odd-front defense and Stille has the hand power and extension skills to effectively stack blockers and challenge the line of scrimmage accordingly. With some intermittent flashes of penetration reps to boot, I certainly think Stille is a player worthy of consideration late in the draft in the hopes that a different role could potentially open his potential up to more production in the pro game. Stille’s developmental appeal may be hindered by his age, however—he’s a mega-senior who once upon a time was an All-Big-Ten Freshman selection back in 2017. Stille will turn 25 in November of 2022 and leaves Nebraska with his master’s degree in hand.
Ideal role: Rotational/developmental 3-4 4i alignment IDL
Scheme tendencies: Odd-front defense that requires two-gapping front
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Ohio State (2021), Oklahoma (2021), Michigan State (2021), Michigan (2021), Iowa (2021)
Best Game Studied: Iowa (2021)
Worst Game Studied: Michigan (2021)
First Step Explosiveness: I wouldn’t necessarily classify him as a dynamic athlete but he moves well for his stature. I didn’t get many chances to see him press gaps or fire through creases, but generally, I’d consider him a sufficient level athlete with fair get-off.
Flexibility: I did see some impressive work from Stille at the point of attack to leverage and maintain his base while flowing with the block. He’s at a bit of a leverage disadvantage due to his height and he doesn’t meet the traditional sense of “bendy,” but I do think in short quarters, he does well to keep his base and adjust to contact to play with functional strength.
Hand Counters: I was surprised to see how active his hands were. He’s not overly dynamic and his hand speed isn’t going to overwhelm blockers but he’s urgent and persistent, actively chopping or pressing as he works to gain ground in passing situations.
Length: Stille has sufficient extension skills and I think he’d showcase that better if he got off the tilted nose alignment and spent more time in the B-gap to punch and extend. I saw plenty of instances of his chest clear before transitioning into a shedding effort; although he does give a bit of ground when looking to parlay out of an extended stack.
Hand Power: Stille has some good pop and is capable of some good knockback at the point. He’s not quick-twitch, however, so his power requires a little bit of a charge for him to get his hands loaded. Strength to sustain his initial control is present when he’s landing blows on target.
Run Defending: I wish he gave you a little bit more of everything or had one dominant trait to work with. He’s got sufficient size, strength, length, and hand activity, but his anchor isn’t overly consistent, he’s a little too long to ideally be playing in the A-gap, and he’s a little too linear to consistently parlay off a stacked block and be considered a plus player in this regard.
Effort (Motor): There’s good action through his hands and his effort doesn’t wane even if he’s taking a loss at the point of attack—he’ll still work to drop a knee and anchor or look for escape routes. Nebraska kept him in at times on third downs and he consistently gave good effort to try to create penetration and he was asked to offer some loops and games before reentering the picture running the arc.
Lateral Mobility: I’ve seen some sufficient effort to scrape and flow and stay overtop of blocks in pursuit of the ball-carrier before making the play a few yards downfield. I wish he were a touch more dynamic to be able to effectively discard those blocks and come to balance uncovered quicker, but he shouldn’t be considered a lump on a log or a stationary player that can’t help do his part to string out the point.
Versatility: Stille has been through an interesting journey at Nebraska. He had his most productive season in splash plays all the way back in 2017 and seems to have pressed himself against a glass ceiling with the Huskers. I’m fascinated to see if he’s got more to unlock in a new system that takes him out of the heart of the defense. I don’t see a high ceiling as an every-down player, however.
TDN Consensus: 68.75/100 (Sixth Round Value)
Crabbs Grade: 70.50/100
Harris Grade: 68.00/100