Stephen Paea opened a lot of eyes when he threw up 49 repetitions in the bench press at last months NFL Combine. But when you evaluate him as a player, you see much more than just a olympic worthy weight lifter.
Paea has been a consistent performer during his college career at Oregon State. He had 5, 3, and 6 sacks in 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively. In addition, he had at least one tackle for loss in 12 of the last 18 games and holds the school record with 9 forced fumbles. Keep in mind, this is just a kid that is still learning how to play the game – he didn’t start playing football until his Senior year of High School.
I was looking forward to watching Paea participate at this years Senior Bowl, but he unfortunately injured his knee in the first practice and was unable to go the rest of the week.
Paea’s main role at Oregon State was to be a space eating, run plugging squatty body. Compared to Nick Fairley, he wasn’t asked to provide an intimidating pass rush, but what he did so, was collapse the pocket and forced the QB outside the tackle box on multiple occasions. When you have a player that can provide that inside push, it is going to make your rush ends that much more impactful as they turn the corner. For Paea to take his game to the next level, he will need to combine that low and hard initial burst with an increased ability to change direction. For now, he is just a powerful straight ahead player.