April 27, 2013

Kenny Stills, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma

11th selection in the fifth round, 144th overall
6'0", 195 pounds, 4.38s 40

The second Big 12 Kenny the Saints have drafted, Stills was the fourth fastest wide receiver at the combine and was an immediate starter for three seasons before leaving Oklahoma early. In fact, like Vaccaro, Stills wore jersey #4, was raised by a single mother in a family with five kids, and was a four-star recruit out of high school.

In the Sooners' unconventional offense this season that hurt many players' draft stock, Stills was productive with 82 catches for 964 yards and 11 scores as a senior, to finish with 204 career receptions. In West Virginia this year in a thrilling 50-49 Sooners win, Stills caught 10 passes for 91 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner with seconds left. He followed it with a nine catch, 103 yard, one touchdown performance against rival Oklahoma State the next week.

Stills played both outside and slot receiver and was a deep speed field stretcher. Against the Texas Longhorns this year, Stills had three receptions for 37 yards going against a defense led by the Saints' first round pick, defensive back Kenny Vaccaro, though the two rarely were matched up. In 2011 as a sophomore, Stills scored two touchdowns on Texas as the Sooners won the Red River Rivalry in a blowout, though Vaccaro playing inside did not cover Stills playing outside, as Stills was matched up one-on-one by CB Carrington Byndom #23 or CB Adrian Phillips #17 on his touchdowns.

In 2011, Stills was suspended for the season opener for a DUI arrest. He also suffered a concussion that held him out of one game in 2011. Stills tamed down a curly, blonde-tipped mohawk and dressed to cover his extensive tattoos leading up to the NFL Draft and tried to make a more professional impression. He's fighting a reputation as a cocky, wild troublemaker that may have been part of his drop to the fifth round.

Like many players the Saints have targeted in recent drafts, Stills has NFL bloodlines. His father Ken played safety for the Packers and Vikings in the 1980s and his uncle Gary was an NFL linebacker as recently as 2008 with the Chiefs.

The NFL advisory committee for underclassmen advised Stills he would not be drafted in the first three rounds but Stills, 20, left school early anyway. Many teams may have removed him from their boards as a character concern. He was featured in a Yahoo Sports original video series "Dream Chasers" here: http://sports.yahoo.com/video/dream-chasers-kenny-stills-163000919.html.

Stills performed well at the Combine, running a 4.38 40 and lifting 225 pounds 16 times, but not at the rapid-fire gauntlet catching drill. Some clocks timed him at a blazing 4.28 40 at the Combine. But his 9.08" hands may have contributed to that and some high-profile drops as a junior. That is below average for a receiver and a full inch shorter than the hands of Cal WR Keenan Allen, Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins and others in this year's draft class.

Despite some fantastic highlight blocks downfield, including a key downfield pancake to trigger a 95-yard touchdown run against Texas (not on Vaccaro), Stills needs improvement as a blocker at the line in the run game. Inconsistency plagued him despite a fast start as an immediate true freshman starter. Stills made the transition from high school to college with ease, will he do the same into the NFL at age 20?

The Saints have drafted a player in the fifth round to clearly challenge WR Joe Morgan for the role as deep threat in the Saints' receiver depth chart, though Stills will face tough competition to contribute as a rookie. Behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore, the Saints have Morgan, 2012 fourth round pick Nick Toon, special teamer Courtney Roby, Preston Parker and Andy Tanner among others. Career Saint veteran Devery Henderson remains unsigned and could return to the Saints any time, though that is less likely now with Stills on board. At best Stills will be fifth fiddle entering training camp.

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