The signature play that defined the senior season of Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still came on a first-down play in Week 2 against Alabama.
Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron took the snap, but before he could even hand the ball off to running back Trent Richardson, Still was already 5 yards into the backfield with Richardson easily wrapped up and on the turf.
The play opened the eyes of draft analysts across the country and placed Still in a class of defensive linemen expected to be taken in the first round of the NFL draft, which begins at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Defensive end Jack Crawford is projected by some analysts to go in the fourth or fifth round, and wide receiver Derek Moye, cornerback D'Anton Lynn, cornerback Chaz Powell, linebacker Nate Stupar and guard Johnnie Troutman are not projected to be drafted but could go late.
Gil Brandt, NFL.com draft expert and former vice president of player personnel with the Dallas Cowboys, and Dan Shonka, Ourlads.com draft expert and former Eagles scout, said Still, a first-team all-American, could be drafted from the mid-first round to early second round.
Considering the team's need at the interior defensive line position, both Shonka and Brandt listed the Eagles as a potential team for the 2011 Big Ten defensive player of the year. Shonka also said the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, and Green Bay Packers as teams interested in Still.
"He's scheme-diverse," Shonka said, making him attractive to a number of teams. Still can play inside on a 4-3 defense, or teams could put him as an anchor in the five-technique, meaning a defensive end in a 3-4 setup.
Still is considered to be in a class with Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, LSU's Michael Brockers, and Michigan State's Jerel Worthy as the top defensive tackles available in 2012, and though some mock drafts have all three going ahead of Still, Brandt said there's little separation between any of them.
"[Still] is a darn good football player. In this draft, there's about 20 guys that all look alike," Brandt said. "Still proved himself. We saw enough in him to bring him to New York for the draft. He's a really good character kid. I think wherever he goes, he'll do well for them."
During his senior season with the Nittany Lions, the Wilmington native recorded 55 tackles, including a team-high 17 for a loss with 41/2 sacks. He also had a pass break up and a forced fumble. Most of those statistics came in the first three quarters of the season, however, as Still suffered a turf toe injury. Due to that, he recorded just eight tackles, with only 11/2 for a loss, during the final four games of the season.
But now, four months after the Lions' final game, Still is 100 percent healthy, said his father, Antonio. He received five phone calls from NFL teams Monday, and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has made Still's father believe the 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman is a top-20 pick.