2011 NFL Draft Player Profile | Stephen Paea
Former Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea was touted as a possible first-round talent, but suffered a torn meniscus during a Senior Bowl practice on January 24.
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.
Player Name: Stephen Paea
Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Oregon State
Arm: 32 7/8
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. His strength is second to none, and his 49 reps on the bench press at the 2011 NFL Combine proved that.
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.
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