Stephen is a quick twitch pass rushing defensive lineman who understands situational football. He has those long arms and a variety of pass rushing moves that will keep offensive linemen guessing what Stephens next pass rushing move will be. Stephen has excellent upper body strength and this, along with his quick feet and use of hands, will serve him well at the next level. Stephen could be used in a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 defensive front; you are just going to have to be smart and move him around to take full advantage of his talents. He is a unique talent and some teams are going to question how to best utilize Stephen's abilities and may downgrade him because of that uncertainty, which would be a big mistake in my opinion.
Although Stephen has good lower body strength and anchors well at the college level (against the run) I think, because of his body type, that he will struggle stopping the run for a 16 game schedule at the NFL level. He is vertically challenged for a DT, which will bother a lot of teams who want a pure DT. I'm not convinced he can carry any more weight and bulk than he has right now, which also may trouble teams who are looking for a pure 3-4 nose tackle. Stephen can stop the run, but gets moved out of the middle when doubled teamed at the college level. Put him outside and he will stop the run. However, inside against double teams, he will get taken out at the NFL level. He is a hard worker and this has nothing to do with effort or strength.
I told you about Tyson Alualu (DL Jaguars) last year. I included him in my top ten and the e-mails came flowing into THR like Niagara Falls. Then Jacksonville drafted him and Tyson became a leader for their defense and one of the best players on their team. Stephen does not have the burst to the play that Tyson has, but he does possess the quickness off the line. If you add into that equation his long arms and upper body strength, you can see that Stephen has the potential to be a pass rushing DE in a 3-4 or a pass rushing DT/DE in a 4-3. I suggest you don't beat his talents up by expecting him to be a run stuffing DT like his college team has used him. He will do the best he can but he will not dominate. Stephen (if used on the outside) can use those long strides into the backfield that will make it difficult for offensive tackles not to over stride and get off balance to cover the same ground when pass blocking against him. Some scouts will say Stephen is like Warren Sapp (DT Buccaneers/ Raiders), but Stephen has more flexibility in his hips and is a bit more of an athlete. At the combine and Senior Bowl, we should all be able to get a good feel for what position the NFL teams are looking to play Stephen at for the next level. Maybe DT will be his position because he may lack the true change of direction skills needed to rush from the outside. No matter what position Stephen plays, he will be an excellent player for the team that drafts him. He should be an impact player and in a 3-4 defense quickly. I call him Stephen (Pure) Paea because he may not be a pure DE or DT, but he sure is a pure football player.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Dec/10