2011 NFL Draft: Colts Draft Profile On Stephen Paea, Defensive Tackle, Oregon St.

It seems that, every week, Oregon defensive tackle Stephen Paea is listed on Brian Galliford's Monday SB Nation Mock Draft. So, it only makes sense that we do a draft profile about it him.

Paea sort of made a name for himself recently by setting an NFL Scouting Combine record in the weight room. Paea benched 225 pounds 44 49 times! If you don't believe me, watch the video of him doing it 47 times (at the Combine, he pushed it up two more reps):


Now, what this means for those of you out there who are a little slow is that Stephen Paea IS REALLY FRIGGIN STRONG! But, as Colts fans, we've seen these kind of bench press stars get drafted and then flame out before they ever see a real football game. I'm speaking, of course, of former-Colts draft pick Terrance Taylor, taken in the 5th 4th Round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Like Paea, Taylor got a lot of press for bench pressing at the Combine. He pumped 225 pounds 37 times, which was then the second best in Combine history. Now, it's third best. While at Michigan, Taylor set records with a 500-pound bench press, 680-pound squat, and a 670-pound dead lift. Dude was diesel.

However, despite his impressive strength, he sucked playing defensive tackle.

Taylor didn't make to the final 53-man roster in 2009. He wasn't even retained on the practice squad, which should give you some idea of how little the Colts coaches and personnel staff thought of him after pre-season.

Knowing all this, the question hangs out there: Is Stephen Paea worthy of a first round pick for the Colts, or is he another Terrance Taylor?

Aside from the 'does he suck the way Taylor sucked' concerns, Paea has had to deal with numerous questions this off-season about the status of his injured knee. He wasn't able to fully participate in the 2011Senior Bowl week after an MRI revealed a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. The last thing the Colts can afford is to have yet another first round pick placed on the shelf because of injury. A player's injury history must be highly scrutinized by this club, and having this concern before he even puts on a NFL uniform should give the Colts pause before they seriously consider Paea at pick No. 22.

However, prior to the knee injury, scouting reports show no history of bumps and bruises. So, I guess that's a positive for Paea. It also doesn't hurt that he is a thick, physically imposing player. At 6'1, 311 pounds, and with a serious reputation as a physically fit player, the risk of him getting chronically hurt is less.

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.

...

But his combination burst and lower body strength make him really tough to move off the football.

Now, notes like 'impressive first step' and praise about his lower body strength don't fully answer the question regarding the comparison to Terrance Taylor. What does answer the question, somewhat, is when you go back and re-read some of Taylor's pre-Draft scouting reports from 2009.

Short and not in great shape...

Better conditioning could help him get off the ball and collapse the pocket consistently...

Taylor is not the type of player that spends the extra hours in the film room preparing for the upcoming opponent.

Those kinds of notes are 'red flags,' especially for a 300-plus pound player. They're also likely the reason Taylor didn't make it to the 53-man roster, and why he is, essentially, out of football today.

With Paea, I'm not seeing such red flags in his scouting reports. So, in that sense, there is a clear difference between him and Taylor.

More from National Football Post:

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.

From Mocking The Draft:

Run defend: 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.

Walter Football:

Strengths:

  • Muscular build and wide frame
  • Very athletic and agile
  • Quick and effective initial punch
  • Great athlete, former rugby player
  • Solid bull rusher
  • Run stopper who holds his ground
  • Hustler with high motor
  • Scheme versatility, possible 3-4 nose
  • From Scott Wright's Draft Countdown [emphasis mine]:

    Strengths:
       • Ripped and cut with good bulk and a solid build
       • Extremely powerful with amazing natural strength
       • Athletic with nice speed, quickness and agility
       • Is stout at the point of attack and can anchor
       • Excellent bull rusher and gets a terrific push
       • Can penetrate and wreak havoc in the backfield
       • Violent hand use and stuns with initial punch
       • Plays w/ outstanding leverage and good balance
       • Is capable of taking on and shedding blockers
       • Active and aggressive in pursuit w/ non-stop motor
       • A reliable tackler who will deliver the knockout hit
       • Competitive and intense w/ nasty on-field demeanor
       • Outstanding work ethic with leadership abilities
       • Still improving and has considerable potential
       • Durable and productive with lots of experience

    So, again, we're not seeing the same sorts of red flags with Paea that others saw with Taylor. In Taylor's case, it seems he was a kid who could pump iron, but wasn't in good physical shape on a NFL DT. With Paea, we're getting reports that not only can he lift large quantities of metal over his chest in a gymnasium, but he's actually a better well conditioned football player.

    So, those are the positives. Now, the bad news (because no player is perfect, save Peyton Manning).

    Scott Wright's Draft Countdown:

    Weaknesses:
       • Lacks ideal height and arm length you'd prefer
       • Instincts and awareness are still questionable
       • Doesn't feature a wide array of pass rush moves
       • Inconsistent and disappears from action at times
       • Is still a bit raw and is not a polished technician

    Walter Football:

    Weaknesses:

  • Height is not ideal
  • Not a diverse pass rusher
  • Tore lateral meniscus at Senior Bowl
  • Mocking The Draft:

    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.

    From the looks of things, technique and a lack of pass rushing moves seem to be his biggest weaknesses. Those types of things should be correctable with coaching. Add all this up, and Paea sounds like a heckuva draft pick! I know some, like Will Bunting at NFP, don't rate him as a first rounder.

    I think I disagree.

    This kid seems as if he can play either 3-4 or 4-3. He was incredibly productive at Oregon State, playing in the PAC-10. He was First Team All-PAC-10 in 2009 and 2010 and was a two-time winner of the Morris Trophy as the top-rated defensive lineman in the PAC-10.

    The Colts defensive line was one of the worst in football last year, especially at stopping the run. They surrendering an embarrassing 2,032 yards rushing, including 4.6 yards per carry. They also gave up 14 rushing TDs. To place how bad they were into perspective, the Detroit Lions had a better running defense than Indianapolis.

    Seemingly every year, we say the Colts need to take a quality tackle to improve the run defense. Stephen Paea might be that quality tackle.


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