After a killer combine, it’s no surprise that the latest version of the 2011 NFL Mock Draft from SB Nation has Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea rising in draft rankings. The beneficiary this time around is the Kansas City Chiefs, currently sitting at No. 21 in the first round.
Paea set an NFL Combine record on the bench press with 49 reps at 225 pounds, an astounding number that speaks to the sheer strength of the Morris Trophy winner. He’s still raw in the eyes of several scouts and there’s lingering injury concerns that have some worried, but the Combine performance likely outweighed all of those doubts. As Brian Galliford writes:
A meniscus injury has many writing off Paea as a first-round possibility; that is misguided. Paea can flat-out play – and the strength on display in his bench workout has long made him a 3-4 nose possibility. He’s an upgrade over Ron Edwards.
It’s that last line where Galliford is dead-on. The Chiefs are average at best up the middle, which fails to free up your linebackers — the very aim in a 3-4 system. When you have dynamic and athletic talents like Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson available, you have to let them do their job. Paea would accomplish just that.