Every year in the NFL Draft, there are several surprises. We see players and everyone thought shouldn’t get drafted go in the draft. On the flipside, we see some players who were definite draft picks not even get drafted. It’s rare, but it happens occasionally. That’s exactly what happened this year to West Virginia Mountaineer wide receiver David Sills. The former high school (and JUCO) quarterback had an outstanding career for the Mountaineers. He was expected to go between the fourth and fifth rounds. However, his name wasn’t one of the 254 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. It baffles me that we seen around thirty wide receivers go in the draft and Sills was left out. I don’t know why that was, but I’ll try to make some logic out of it.
Sills was one of the best receivers in WVU football history. His 35 career receiving touchdowns rank second all-time in school history. He ranks second and third all-time in single-season receiving touchdowns. And he caught three or more touchdown passes four times in his career. He was a reliable receiver for the Mountaineers and was on pace to break the single-season touchdown record until Will Grier got injured and the passing game went downhill in 2017. Add in back-to-back seasons of 60 receptions or more and you have a solid wide receiver prospect. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case among NFL teams.
When you watch the video on Sills, he’s a great route runner and can get vertical. He found the soft spots in coverage and is excellent in red zone opportunities. When you factor in his intelligence and work ethic, Sills is a heck of a ballplayer. He can fight with anyone for the ball and he isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with any defender. Sills also has shown his athleticism on some highlight-worthy acrobatic catches.
When you look at Sills’ numbers, he looks awesome. But looking deeper than just the stats, there are some concerns. Every player has cons, but some cons tend to stand out. That’s what happened with David Sills. His size is good, but his speed and strength were a major concern. At 211lbs, NFL teams want a guy with speed. Sills is a little slower than desired, running a 4.57 40-yard dash at the combine. That’s still decent and can be overlooked with bigger, stronger receivers. His strength is also questionable and he struggles against press coverage. The NFL is a different animal than college football and defensive backs are really good at jamming receivers. But that wouldn’t stop him from getting drafted on its own. Also, the offensive system at WVU isn’t a system that translates easily into the NFL. That’s because it’s not very popular in the NFL.
Every year in the draft, NFL teams work out a strategy on how to go about certain players. If they feel that they can get a player later in the draft, that’s what they’ll do. I think that’s what happened to an extent in the case of David Sills. Several teams were interested, but they felt they could draft him a little deeper or not at all. Working out a deal as an undrafted free agent could work in a team’s favor. As teams held off and opted for other receivers, Sills remained on the board and was looking like a steal as each picked came and went. That can get the front office thinking about offering a deal after the draft and I think that was partly the case here.
Again, I’m still surprised that Sills didn’t go in the draft, but there are some key points to look at. Looking at his lack of speed and strength, offensive system, and teams trying to land a bargain, I guess that’s good enough logic to understand why Sills didn’t get drafted. At least it’s enough for some people. I still don’t get it, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Regardless, the Buffalo Bills signed him as a UDFA and he’ll get his chance to make the team this summer. He’s a project that needs a lot of work, but it is likely that he will make the team. Especially given the fact that the Buffalo struggled in the passing game last season.