Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stephen Paea NFL Draft Overview

03/17/2011 - DT Stephen Paea has been rehabbing from January knee surgery following an injury suffered during Senior Bowl practices, and tentatively has a March 31 workout scheduled as long as his knee is strong enough. He set a combine record with 49 reps at 225 pounds, but had to sit out the positional drills and Oregon State's pro day. Paea's been known for his strength for some time, using his low center of gravity to play with leverage inside. His hustle also intrigues teams, who consider him a solid second-round pick despite a knee injury that took him out of the Senior Bowl last month. -- The Sports Xchange

Full Stephen Paea News WireOverview

Wide as a Coke machine and just as difficult to move, Paea (pronounced pie-uh) has developed into one of the nation's best run-stuffers. His development is staggering in the sense that he signed with Oregon State having only played three years of organized football.

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.

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