Leading Lifter: How Much Has the Bench Press Helped Stephen Paea's Stock?

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Leading Lifter: How Much Has the Bench Press Helped Stephen Paea's Stock?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Being a fan of the Draft, I often look at NFL Mock Drafts here at Bleacher Report.

Most of them are first-round mocks due to the workload of making a mock draft with the research and all. Before the Senior Bowl week, many mocks had Stephen Paea going in the first round, whether it be at number 10 or number 30.

Since his torn meniscus, he has fallen off the map for nearly everyone. Heck, even Mel Kiper had him going at number 21 to the Kansas City Chiefs. Mel Kiper has since released his new mock, mock 2.0, which doesn't even include Paea in the 1st round.

Now, you may say that is just one person who hasn't included him since his injury but it's not. Since his injury, Paea has become much of an afterthought. Not one mock draft I've read since his injury has him going in the 1st round.

Defensive tackles such as the fast-rising Corey Liuget of Illinois, and Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple, have leaped ahead of him in many peoples eyes.

But the combine is here, and Stephen Paea hopes to increase his stock.

His first test was the bench press. He lifted an incredible 49 reps, a mile ahead the rest of his competition. The second place person at the combine so far has finished with a still-impressive 38 reps.

Where Will Stephen Paea Go?

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To be fair, the combine isn't everything. Most of the teams will watch the combine and see if what the players do at the combine translates to real game speed.

Luckily for Paea, it does. Paea has become a dominant force in his years at Oregon State, winning the Morris Trophy in both 2009 and 2010. The Morris Trophy goes to the top defensive lineman in the Pac-10.

After his Senior Bowl tragedy, Paea had become nothing but an afterthought. Some people even forgot to include him in their two or three round mocks. But with his bench press showing, Paea's strength and relentless motor will be back on the radar of many, hopefully slipping into the first round as he was projected not so long ago.

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