by Jim Buzzerd
The NFL Draft took place over three days last weekend and just one West Virginia University football player was selected. Linebacker Tony Fields was the only Mountaineer picked in the 2021 NFL Draft, which concluded with the final four rounds Saturday. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round with the 153rd pick.
Defensive lineman Darius Stills signed a free agent contract with the Las Vegas Raiders and offensive lineman Mike Brown is bound for New Orleans.
Stills’ exclusion from the draft caught many by surprise. Stills was a consensus All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year in his senior season with the Mountaineers. He played in 43 games at WVU, starting 21 of those contests. Stills collected 48 tackles (25 1/2 for loss) and 11 1/2 sacks. He was a two-time All-Big 12 first team selection.
Those are pretty good credentials to not rate a selection. Pro teams evidently think there were 224 players better than the Fairmont native. Stills size, or lack thereof, probably worked against him. At just over six feet tall and shy of 300 pounds, Stills doesn’t have the prototypical size of an NFL defensive lineman. Hopefully he’ll get a legitimate opportunity with the Raiders.
WVU wasn’t alone with having poor draft results. The Big 12 was last among Power Five conferences with 22 draft selections. For the first time in the history of the league there were no first round picks from the Big 12.
The SEC dominated the draft, which is normal, with 65 selections led by Alabama with 10. The Big 10 had 44 players selected, the ACC 42 (they had the nerve to include nine Notre Dame players who played in the ACC on a one season agreement), and the Pac 12 had 28 players selected.
Any way you slice it these are alarming numbers for the conference. The SEC schools in particular, and to a lesser degree the Big 10 and ACC, can point to these numbers when recruiting against a Big 12 school. On the other hand, while a concern, this is only a one-year statistic. It’s not time to hit the panic button yet.
Also, keep in mind the Big 12 has only 10 schools. The ACC has 15, the SEC and Big 10 have 14 each and the appropriately named PAC 12 has 12.