Stephen Paea, Defensive Tackle
Height: 6-1 Weight: 303 College: Oregon State
What they say about Carimi
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.Analysis
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.Draft BreakdownSummary: Many people have started to slide Stephen Paea down draft boards due to an injury during Senior Bowl practice on the back of what people believe was a so-so senior season at Oregon State. I think this is a mistake. Paea faced constant double-teams in his senior season and still managed to win the Pac-10 defensive player of the year award and, perhaps even more impressively, the Morris trophy, an award given to the best defensive lineman in the Pac-10 as voted on by the conferences offensive lineman. Furthermore, Paea is relatively new to football having not played until his senior year in high school. His game is all about strength and disruption. Paea wont wow anyone with great technique. His best fit in the NFL is as a 3-technique along the defensive line and should be drafted in the late 1st or early 2nd round.
Run Stopping: If you look strictly at statistics, Paea wont stun you in any category. However, put on the film of his games and you realize how disruptive of a force he can be. His ability is not necessarily of always making the tackle, but rather wreaking havoc in the play design by pushing his blocker out of position. His initial burst off the ball and strength at the point of attack are truly top notch. When he does get into a position to make a play he can be a devastating tackler. Paea notched nine career forced fumbles, a school record for Oregon State. He shows great hustle and effort in running to the ball. The problem with Paea comes in his short stature and arm length. He does not consistently show the ability to disengage once blocked and his relative lack of experience and technique cause problems when a play is designed to go to his opposite side.
Pass Rushing: If the bull rush is your thing then you will love to watch Paea rush the passer. But if you are expecting a vast array of pass rush moves then you will be disappointed. Paea is not a natural pass rusher, but instead uses his strength to push his way into position to make a sack. With more coaching and time perhaps he can add some more pass rush moves to his repertoire, but as of now he does not project to be a great pass rusher in the NFL.
Potential: Paea has the ability and work ethic to be a solid NFL 3-technique defensive lineman. His strength and ability to penetrate should make him a fairly sought-after commodity. Teams will be concerned with his relatively small size, and he weighed in at 295 lbs. at the Senior Bowl which is less than expected, and less than his listed weight. Teams will factor in his lack of experience knowing that he has much room to grow as a football player. It is debatable whether Paea has Pro Bowl type potential, but he should be a starter and contributor from day one.
National Football Post
An explosive, thickly built defensive tackle who displays an impressive first step off the snap and consistently is one of the first defensive linemen moving. Does a great job keeping his base down, back flat and creating leverage for himself into contact. Is able to generate an impressive jolt at the point of attack in both the run and pass game, keeping opposing linemen from getting onto his frame initially off the snap. Demonstrates the first step to cross the face of opposing defenders and shoot his way into the backfield, but also displays good suddenness and body control as a pass rusher inside, cleanly changing directions and using a compact club move which he added to his arsenal from a year ago to free himself from blocks inside. However, needs to do a better job extending his arms more consistently into contact off the snap and lacks much of an idea how to counter if his initial rush is stalled.
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.
Positives: Athletic... Very agile... Good suddenness... Very good first step quickness, fires off the ball... Disruptive... Explosive... Good upper body strength, set a combine record with 49 reps of 225 pounds... Plays with good power... Violent hands... Can get off blocks reasonably well... Can push the pocket... Gets good penetration... Plays with good leverage... Can be unblockable one on one... Does a good job occupying double teams... Will knock offensive linemen back on initial punch... Shoots gaps... Good bull rush... Very solid versus the run... Makes plays against the run in the backfield... Good agility and change of direction agility... Good lateral mobility... Chases the ball... Good tackler... Hard hitter... Does a good job knocking the ball loose... Stays low... Tough... Good work ethic... Good motor... Co-captain... Former rugby player... Has not missed a game at Oregon State... Good upside... Selected All-Pac Ten second team for the 2009 season, selected All-Pac Ten first team for the 2010 season and named 2010 Defensive Player of the year... Good fit in one gap system... Has a lot of Sedrick Ellis similarities.
Negatives: Lacks ideal height... Shorter than ideal arms... Just an average pass rusher... Swim and rip moves are still developing, lacks counter moves... All three sacks in 2009 came in the same game... A bit scheme restricted as a 4-3 under tackle... 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... Suffered a knee injury during Senior Bowl practices and was unable to do a full workout at the combine.