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Five Questions With Building The Dam about Stephen Paea



We're having a lot of fun going back and forth with the SBNation sites of the colleges that produced all the Bears draft picks this year.  We've already knocked out something about Bears #1 draft choice Gabe Carimi.  Here's our Windy City Gridiron Five Questions and here's their Take Five from Bucky's 5th Quarter.

And here's our Five Questions post we did with California Golden Blogs about Bears 3rd rounder Chris Conte.  And here's our interview we gave them regarding the former Cal safety.

In this edition of Five Questions With, we're happy to have Andy Wooldridge the editor for the Oregon State Beavers website Building The Dam.  Andy is also the editor of  On to our questions about Bears 2nd round draft pick, Stephen Paea.

WCG - Paea is obviously one of the strongest players coming out of college ever, but did his incredible strength translate to the football field?

Yes it did. Paea was elected the Pac-10 defensive lineman of the year by the conference's offensive linemen the last two years, after being double teamed by them virtually every play of his career. Paea's leg drive is extraordinary, and his rugby experience taught him how to leverage that strength.

WCG - The Bears have been looking for consistent play at the 3 technique defensive tackle since Tommie Harris lost his Pro Bowl form due to injury.  Do you feel Paea has the initial burst and closing speed to play that position?

It was actually his explosiveness that first attracted the Oregon St. coaching staff to him. Defensive line coach Joe Seumalo tells the story about looking at just 6 plays on tape, and deciding he had to have Paea, never mind his relative inexperience at the time.

As Paea has developed, often his tactic for beating those double teams is to split the defenders off the snap with a quick burst. He has also stated that Warren Sapp's style of beating offensive linemen with quick moves is one that he is working to model his game after.

WCG - Paea tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee at the Senior Bowl practice, and he played through knee and leg pain for most of 2008.  The Bears have had some bad luck drafting players with an injury history, would you consider Paea an injury risk?

To a degree, everyone who plays an interior line position is an injury risk, because of the mayhem among very large bodies that goes on there. But Paea only missed one game in his three years, and was healthy all season the last two years, despite the punishment of those constant double teams. He has also completely recovered from that knee injury.

Paea's conditioning is very good as well, which is a major factor in avoiding injury.

WCG - With just 6 years experience playing football, some would assume Paea's technique isn't where it should be, and that he relies solely on his athleticism and strength.  How would you rate his technique as a defensive tackle?

There's no doubt that Paea's game will benefit from additional coaching at a high level. All college defensive linemen can. But the progress he has made in his three years at Oregon St. suggests he will continue to improve with the Bears. And he's always been receptive to coaching.

There were some pretty good defensive players around the Pac-10 last year, yet Paea was chosen the Conference Defensive Player of the Year, an honor that frequently goes to a linebacker. And he's Oregon St.'s career leader in fumbles forced. Those kinds of accomplishments don't happen on raw talent alone.

WCG - Everything I've read about Stephen Paea speaks of his character in glowing terms, could you elaborate on the type of person Paea is?

His Polynesian culture emphasizes family, honor, respect, a sense of community, and responsibility. And that's the sort of person he is.

His objective in turning pro is for his mom and dad to be able to retire, which is why he considered coming out a year ago. He asked his Mom if it would hurt the family too much financially if he stayed one more year in college. She told him it was his decision, but the family would make it. So he decided then to come back, in order to get his degree, which is in Sociology, the first degree ever for anyone in his family.

His decision making took into consideration both his family's needs, short term and long term, as well as his education, and how one affected the other.


Thanks again to Andy of Building The Dam!