Versus the Run: One of the most physical and powerful run defenders in the nation. Stuns offensive linemen with a strong punch. Plays the game with great leverage and balance. Uses sound technique. Extends his arms, has violent hands, and sheds blockers quickly and effortlessly. Has the lower body strength to 2-gap and anchor against double teams. Is deceivingly quick off the snap. Gets up the field in a hurry, and makes a ton of plays in the backfield when asked to 1-gap. Displays excellent awareness and locates ball carriers. Plays the game with a sense of urgency and aggression.
Pass Rush Skills: Is an disruptive force. Has the burst and suddenness to shoot gaps. Shows an effective hook, arm over, and bull rush. Knows how to use his body to bounce off of offensive linemen, to gain an advantage in leverage. Is gifted athletically for his size. Does need to improve on changing directions and counter moves.
Quickness (hands/feet): Displays a quick initial punch. Hands are extremely violent. Anticipates the snap count well, and gets his feet moving before anyone else.
Toughness/Motor: Is a hand full to deal with. Plays the game with an unspoken passion. Motor is always at full throttle. Never gives up on a play and always hustles. Is in tip top condition.
Intangibles: 2010 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. 2010 1st Team AP All-American. Multi-year team captain. Soft spoken personality, but plays the game with a fiery passion. Is a gym rat, and probably the strongest player in the nation.
Overall Stock: Stephen Paea is the type of player teams are looking for. He has the perfect combination of character, talent, and skill. That combination alone will take Paea far. With his bull-like strength, Paea can be a 2-gap defensive tackle in the 4-3. He also has the suddenness to be a 1-gap defensive tackle. I believe his talent is best served in a 1-gap system. He is highly explosive off the snap and causes a lot of disruption in the backfield. Some 3-4 teams could look at Paea to man the nose tackle position. He has the ability to sit down and eat up double teams, but is some what undersized. He’d need to add some additional girth to his frame in order to play in that scheme. Paea is held in high regards. His strength is amazing, and he is considered one of the best defensive tackles in the nation. There is no reason why a team won’t take him off the board in the late first round-early second.
NFL Comparisons: Sedrick Ellis and Tyson Alualu
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