In his first mock draft of the season, ESPN’s Mel Kiper think the Kansas City Chiefs will look to solidify the defensive line and look out West for that help with Oregon State DT Stephen Paea.
Among personnel people, I find a wide range of opinion on Paea. Some think he’s an anchor on the defensive line, a force that could go much higher. Others see some inconsistency and believe he could fall to the second round. He’ll be a guy to watch during the draft process. Still, what he can do is immediately strengthen a rush defense. He occupies blocks with great leverage and big-time strength. Paea will do a number on the bench-press. Not a great penetrator but he frees up tacklers and fits this system.
I think we are all ready for the Chiefs to find an answer in the middle and Paea would be a great option.
Not only would he fill a need, but he fits the bill for exactly what Scott Pioli and Todd Haley are looking for in a prospect. Paea seems to be the same player on every snap, is a physical specimen and — of course — a team captain for the Beavers.
We saw in last year’s draft just how quickly a defensive tackle’s draft stock can become volatile no matter how solid they look and you should expect the same thing to happen here. Even though he has had a solid career at Oregon State and is likely going to destroy everyone at the combine, there is the issue of where his best position is on the defensive line. I think he can play NT in a 3-4, but there are plenty of others that see him as strictly a DT in a 4-3. There is the option of playing him as an end in the 3-4, though the Chiefs already have plenty of money committed outside (Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson).
There is also the inexperience factor. Paea only played football for a few years before making his way to Oregon State and when you throw in the learning curve for defensive linemen in the NFL, all of a sudden you have teams pushing him down their board.