Possesses impressive anchor strength for his size. However, isn’t a guy who will sit into his stance and control blocks in the run game. But his combination burst and lower body strength make him really tough to move off the football. Even vs. the double he has the ability to hold his ground inside. Exhibits good range when asked to close and make plays off his frame, but needs to do a better job using his length to shed blocks. Isn’t real long-armed and will struggle to keep himself clean and stack and shed blocks inside. Seems to get high trying to fight his way off blocks and will lose his balance and body control when working his way toward the runs off his frame.
Impression: He’s explosive, powerful and can consistently overpower blockers at the point of attack. However, because of his lack of length and ability to cleanly shed blocks in the run game, looks limited to more of a one-gap scheme in the NFL. But has the ability to start and play at a high level early in his NFL career."
A highly touted rugby player, Paea moved to the United States at age 16 and began playing football and learning the English language at that time. With only one season at Timpview High School, Paea signed with Snow Junior College, where he helped the Badgers finish the 2007 regular season undefeated and eventually ranked No. 3 in the country.
With Oregon State in 2008, Paea earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors with 41 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and five sacks. Despite being the object of every opponent's blocking scheme, Paea was similarly effective in 2009, registering 43 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and tying the school record with four forced fumbles. Pac-10 offensive linemen voted him the Morris Trophy as the conference's most dominant defensive lineman. Even more impressively, Paea repeated as the Morris Trophy winner in 2010, registering similar tackle numbers (45) and roughly doubling his efforts behind the line of scrimmage (10 TFLs, six sacks). He again posted four forced fumbles, giving him the school record of nine over his career.
Paea is a bit of a one-trick pony. He isn't agile enough to put consistent pressure on the quarterback at the NFL level. His ability to tie up blocks in the middle will lead teams to look at him closely over the first 50 picks of the 2011 draft no matter what scheme they utilize.
Pass Rush: Doesn't provide much in terms of a pass rush. Is able to split gaps due to his burst off the snap, but doesn't have quick feet or agility to chase down the quarterback. Relies on his bull rush to knock interior linemen into the pocket and flush the passer into the arms of teammates. Lacks the height and arm length required in consistently altering passing lanes.
Run Defense: Is quick enough to surprise his opponent with a burst through the gap, but will make his NFL millions due to the fact that he is a natural run plugger due to his short, squatty build and rare upper- and lower-body strength. Can be knocked off the ball when double-teamed, but flashes the ability to split them and is rarely pushed far before he's able to plant his legs in the ground and create a pile. Doesn't have the lateral agility and balance to beat runners to the sideline, but hustles in pursuit.
Explosion: Fires off the snap low and hard, flashing a sudden burst that surprises opponents. Burst is short-lived and only extends to his ability to go straight upfield. With his strength and bowling ball-like frame, Paea can explode into the ballcarrier if he gets a running start.
Strength: Ranks as one of the country's strongest players, reportedly boasting a 600-pound squat, 500-pound bench press and the ability to churn out 44 repetitions of 225 pounds. Is even stronger than his weight-room numbers indicate due to his natural leverage. Doesn't disengage from blockers as well as his strength would indicate due to the need to refine his hand technique and average lateral agility.
Tackling: Stays squared and low to knock down the ballcarrier near the line of scrimmage. Flashes explosive hitting ability, with a proven ability to knock the ball free. Tied the OSU record with four forced fumbles in 2009. Good upper-body strength to drag down ballcarriers as they attempt to go past him. Doesn't have the speed or change of direction to offer much in pursuit.
Intangibles: High-effort player was voted a team co-captain in 2009, in his second year in the program as a junior. Proved his toughness in 2008 by playing the final month of the regular season despite a painful bursa sac injury in his knee. Born in New Zealand, grew up in Tonga and dreamt of becoming a professional rugby player. Learned the English language after moving to the United States at age 16.
Pursuit: Is a high effort defensive lineman who plays to the whistle. Doesn’t wear down late in games, which is a huge asset for an interior defensive lineman. Is mostly a straight ahead player and doesn’t move all that well laterally. Because of that, he may slip some in the draft to a team that strictly need a player of his style.
Quickness: Displays an excellent short-area burst. Flies off the snap with good quickness, but isn’t elite in this area. Has a strong, quick punch to beat linemen to their first move.
Run Defense: Paea might not be the widest of bodies, but he is a rock in the middle of Oregon State’s defense. He anchors especially well because of his lower body strength. He’s hard to move off the line and routinely requires double teams. As a senior, Paea faced a lot of triple teams in the run game. Although he can anchor just fine, Paea’s best spot in the pros might be a three-technique in a 4-3 scheme.
Strength: Paea is known as a weight room superstar and is one of the strongest players in the draft. His strength is evident in his playing style. If Paea gets good positioning, he can throw offensive linemen around or simply drive them backward.
Tackling: Can be a devastating tackler due to his power and short-area burst. Likes to try and strip the ball when making a tackle. Holds Oregon State’s all-time record for fumbles forced.
Technique: Paea only played three years of football before starting his career at Oregon State. It shows at times in his technique. His hand use on the pass rush is inconsistent. He doesn’t always get proper position to work his man and beat blocks. Nor does he always lock his arms out. Is a technically sound anchor against the run game.
Final word: If nothing else, Paea is an entertaining player to watch. He’s a squatty, powerful defensive tackle who generates a lot of penetration. Paea has a lot of upside considering he only played three seasons of American football prior to playing for Oregon State in 2008.
Paea still has room to grow, particularly in the technical aspects of the game. His hand usage needs to improve, which it did some in 2010."
Despite his recent injury, Paea should still be a first-round pick.
Injury or not, there’s no denying Paea’s talent.
He recorded a total of 127 tackles with 13 sacks during his college career, although a defensive tackle’s impact on the game cannot be determined through statistics alone.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Paea is his great initial burst off the snap. He’s a load to deal with, and his quickness off the snap often surprises opposing interior linemen. His game is centered around his great strength, and he’s most effective as a bull-rusher through the middle. He gives a great effort on every play, and plays until the whistle. Although he isn’t as wide as some interior D-linemen, he’s a load to deal with, and often requires a double-team. He’s rock-solid in defending the run, and uses his strength to push offensive linemen backwards, seemingly at will. Paea is a very sure tackler, and often tries to strip the ball while making a tackle. He was a consistent playmaker throughout his collegiate career, and was proficient at getting into the backfield and wreaking havoc upon opposing offenses.
Paea doesn’t possess prototypical size for most NFL defensive tackles, and may be limited to playing solely as a three-technique in a 4-3 scheme. He isn’t overly experienced as a football player, as he only played three years of football prior to playing in college. He doesn’t always know how to use his hands when rushing the passer, and that’s where offensive linemen succeed against him. He’s a much better run-stopper than he is a pass-rusher. His recent knee injury may impact his draft position, and he may need to put on some weight in order to become a more versatile defensive tackle.
Paea is undoubtedly one of the strongest players in this draft class, and is one of the top interior defensive linemen available. He has the talent to be a first-round selection, although it’s currently unclear how much his meniscus tear will negatively impact his status. Being able to stop the run is an extremely valuable commodity when it comes to NFL defensive linemen, and Paea is proven in that area. Given his relative inexperience, it’s only natural to expect him to continue to improve in the future. Despite the injury, I still expect Paea to go in the late first or early second round.
NFL Player Comparison: B.J. Raji"
Positive: Explosive, one-gap defensive tackle who plays with great intensity. Fires off the snap with a terrific first step, plays with outstanding pad level and gets leverage on opponents. Built low to the ground, keeps his feet driving up the field, and works hard until the whistle blows. Knifes through blocks on the inside, fluid changing direction and displays an array of moves with his hands getting off blocks. Slides laterally down the line to make plays, rarely off his feet, and draws extra attention from opponents.
Negative: Easily out-positioned or neutralized at the point by a single blocker. Lacks great bulk on the inside. Did not improve as much as a senior as most scouts thought was possible.
Analysis: Paea is a tremendous college defensive lineman who plays with a nonstop motor. Size is a limiting factor yet if put in a position to best use his talents, he will undoubtedly produce at the next level as a starter. He would be best as a three-technique lineman or one-gap tackle."
Negatives: Shorter than ideal... Just an average pass rusher... Not very explosive through the hole... Change of direction skills need work... Lacks counter moves... Swim and rip moves are still developing... All three sacks in 2009 came in the same game... Knee injury lingered during 2008 season at Snow Community College... Relatively inexperienced football player, had only played football for three years prior to Oregon State."
Weaknesses: A raw prospect who only has played football for five years. Doesn't possess an explosive burst as a pass rusher. Has such great strength, but doesn't use it to his advantage enough as a pass rusher. Needs to develop counter moves to become a more effective pass rusher. Plays with inconsistent technique. Has trouble playing with his hands and shedding blocks consistently. Struggles to locate the ball at times. Lacks the athleticism to make plays in space and in pursuit.
Projection: Late First Round-Early Second Round. One of the top DT prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft, but because of his size, he will be limited to playing in a 4-3 scheme."
Scouts like Paea's quickness and athleticism. He has some good moves to beat opposing linemen and plays surprisingly well from a technical stand point considering his lack of football experience. What may keep Paea out of the first round is his size. Paea is 6-1 and does not have the longest arms around and that occasionally makes it difficult to shed blocks. On many draft boards Paea is the top defensive tackle and that will make him a first round selection if he can hold onto that spot."
He will work out like a phenom and test through the roof and does not figure to escape the first round. However, he does not consistently play to his workout numbers, and concerns remain about him staying blocked too long and not being able to process what he sees quickly enough."
Stephen Paea is a pure, unadulterated Run Stuffer. He has very little in the way of Pass Rush moves, and isn't much of a penetrator. But he is astonishingly Strong at the point of attack, the strongest in this entire Draft Class.
This is a guy, it seems to me, who's going to clog the middle ~ and clog it well ~ for a long, long time. Stick him at Nose Tackle, let him redirect traffic to your play makers on the outside, and don't worry about that position for the next ten years.
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