Posted Apr 20, 2011
Oregon State's Stephen Paea set a new combine record on the bench press, but he said that strength isn't limited to the weight room.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At the NFL Scouting Combine, one of the most talked about events is the bench press.
Each position group gathers around what amounts to a stage where one player grinds out as many repetitions of 225 pounds as he can while fellow prospects shout encouragement and dozens of coaches and scouts look on.
So when the defensive linemen entered the room, it was packed. Everyone wanted to see what the biggest men at the combine could do.
North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin went third, setting the tone with 38 repetitions.
From there, 26 prospects came and went, only five of which reached the 30 reps mark. Then came Stephen Paea.
The Oregon State product stands an imposing 6-foot-1, 303 pounds, and set up under the bar ready to impose his will. He did just that, cranking out 43 repetitions without so much as a pause. By the time he was through, he had set a new combine record with 49 repetitions.
"I think I can go back and do another one," he would later say at the podium. "My goal was 50 -- I was a little bit mad at myself."
Paea, who moved to the United States with his family from Tonga when he was 16 years old, hoped that performance helped boost a draft stock that already saw him projected to be picked within the first two days.
At Oregon State, he racked up 129 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and three pass breakups over three seasons. He graduated as the school record holder for forced fumbles with nine.