Oregon State Senior
40: 4.90 (estimated)
Has a dangerous first step and can beat most of his opponents with his quickness. Very athletic and moves very well in space, almost like a linebacker. Shows ability to make plays in pursuit and has good closing burst on the ball. Does a nice job sniffing out screens and will give chase. Shows potential as a bull rusher and has a nice swim move, especially when working at nose tackle. Will fight off blocks and shows decent hand technique. Can get leverage vs. the run because of his first step and shows some ability to take on double teams and eat space due to his strength.
Doesn't always do a great job anchoring and getting leverage vs. the run. Gets pushed back at times. Doesn't consistently shed blocks and needs to improve his technique in order to disengage. Less effective when he's forced to use his hands to beat blockers, rather than rely on his quickness. Can get redirected at times when going up against tackles in a 3-man front. At times will wear down over the course of games and will disappear for stretches.
Paea is a multi-threat up front because he played multiple techniques across Oregon State's line and was their biggest impact player in recent years. He played predominantly the 3-technique, but also got a lot of reps at the 1-technique, as well as getting some time at 5 when they went to 3-man fronts. Born in New Zealand, he moved to the U.S. when he was 16, and didn't play his first year of football until 2007 at Snow College in Utah. After a year as a backup there, he transferred to Oregon State. Didn't have as great production at OSU as his talented may have warranted, but had 3 solid years as a starter, combining for 129 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and 9 forced fumbles. His cousin is former Kansas DT Chris Maumalanga who spent three brief years as a journeyman in the NFL (1994-96). Name is pronounced like "Pie-uh."
Paea is raw and didn't have the level of production that his talented warranted at Oregon State, but he's got a bright future. He could easily be the guy that five years from now is clearly the best player from this draft class. He's a unique athlete that is in the same sort of caliber as Haloti Ngata, just not with the same size obviously. Paea can shine in a one-gap scheme that emphasizes disruption and penetration. But he could also be a decent option in a two-gap scheme playing defensive end, and eventually if he bulks up he could also be a dangerous nose tackle. But that sort of development probably isn't going to happen if at all until somewhere long down the line. The issue with him for coaches and scouts is determining just how raw he is. And coaching him up and molding him to fully take advantage of his athletic and physical skillset. He is super strong, but at the same time he can move like a linebacker. And you love the fact that he played multiple techniques in college, which I think all of those things grouped together make him a very versatile option for a defense to have. And that's why I compare him to Ngata, because similarly Ngata can pretty much do anything the Ravens coaching staff ask of him, whether it's playing DE, DT, or NT, or dropping off into coverage. I think eventually he can be a dominant player in the NFL, but it also wouldn't surprise me if it takes a while to coach him up to that level. He doesn't strike me as a low character guy that isn't going to work hard once he gets into the league. The one thing that keeps him from being ranked up with the other elite defensive tackles in this class is that I think he's probably a bit rawer than some of them are in terms of his potential to make an immediate impact. But if he takes well to NFL coaching, he'll be starting by his second or third year, and by that latter point, should be developing nicely into an upper echelon, if not elite defensive tackle.
Paea is a perfect fit in the Falcons defensive scheme. He is a disruptive presence that can also hold up vs. the run. If he can be coached up and improve his technique, he could be a dominant defender. Because the Falcons like to flip their defensive tackles and play them at multiple techniques, his experience at Oregon State means that he'll be very much used to that. Eventually, if and when he develops, his versatility, athleticism will create matchup nightmares for opposing teams. If you can get him to produce by his second or third year, and if Babineaux is still going strong then you potentially have the most dangerous pair of pass rushing defensive tackles in the league. Right away, his combination of athleticism and strength will get him reps in the Falcons rotation. And he's talented enough that by the end of his second season he should at least be pushing for a starting job if not already taken it from Jerry or Peters. And definitely by his third year he should be starting and impacting on a weekly basis. And by his fourth or fifth year he should be at a Pro Bowl-caliber level and a solid replacement for Babineaux in the middle as the team's main disruptor. Like Babineaux, I'm not sure he'll be a top-notch sack artist, although he does have the talent that if he can develop his technique and add more moves, he could be a guy that gets 5-10 sacks in a year. But his better value will be that he'll make a ton of tackles for loss and that way will make him one of the top run defenders in the league.
Paea definitely has Top 15 potential, but because he might take some time to develop, he's probably only worth a late first rounder. As a second round pick, he could be one of the biggest steals of this draft.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 3.5
Pass Rush: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.