First Round Prospects, Defensive Line: Stephen Paea, Oregon State

Stephen Paea was First Team All America and the Pac 10 Defensive Player of the year his senior year at Oregon State. The 6'1" Paea only weighed in at the Senior Bowl at 295 pounds, which was smaller than his listed weight at over 310.

He is very explosive off the snap. He hits offensive linemen before they can gain balance. He also has a fantastic motor. If he is a bit undersized for a nose tackle in the scheme the Jets run, he can compensate with otherworldly upper body strength. I understand the weight room is different from the football field, but Paea broke an NFL Combine record with 49 reps bench pressing 225 pounds. The previous record was 45. That is a demolition. The second best lineman this year had 38. Size is important at nose tackle, but the job is about drawing double teams and having the strength to hold the point of attack. A quick first step and great upper body strength are good attributes. Jay Ratliff is undersized but uses his explosion to make up for it.

Paea is another guy relatively new to the game so his technique can be inconsistent, particularly using his hands to disengage. He is also coming off knee surgery coming off an injury Senior Bowl week, something every suitor will have to investigate.

I think there are a lot of reasons the Jets would and could be interested in Paea at 30. His high effort play on the field is something the coaches desire. There are some suggestions that Paea might be best suited as a 4-3 three technique lineman, which would suggest a 3-4 team might not be well advised to take him to play nose tackle. There are a few reasons I disagree. The first is that the Jets are not exclusively a 3-4 team. They go to 4-3 fronts more than people realize. Rex Ryan is a master of putting his guys in a position to succeed. He tailors his scheme to fit the talents of his players. On top of this, he has coached a successful undersized 3-4 nose tackle, Kelly Gregg, in Baltimore. His biggest weakness is technique, but this coaching staff does nothing well if not teach linemen technique.

I am sure he would get some time rotating at 3-4 end as a rookie, but his future would probably be inside. He doesn't have the ideal wingspan to play end.

Paea is a disruptive force on the defensive line. I would be a satisfied customer if the Jets grabbed him in the first round. He had 127 tackles, 29.5 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks in 3 years at tackle at Oregon State despite being the center of attention and drawing consistent double and triple teams.

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