2015 NFL Free Agency Preview: Top 5 Defensive Tackles

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Sep 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea (92) sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during the second half at Soldier Field. Chicago won 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

5. Stephen Paea

Pros: Stephen Paea is unbelievably strong, having recorded a near-record 49 bench press reps at his combine. His impressive strength translates well in the pass rush, where he is able to bull rush offensive guards and push the pocket, leaving quarterbacks with nowhere to step up. He can also finish: he recorded six sacks for the Bears last year, and 12 in his career.

Cons: For a man with his unbelievable upper body strength he seems to struggle with using  his lower body to hold his ground against run blockers and control a rush lane. While his struggles may have something to do with being used poorly in the Bears’ system, he was not a part of the solution on the poor Bears’ defenses of the past two seasons.

Scheme Fit: Paea has been both a 3-tech and a 1-tech or nose in Chicago’s defense, but is more naturally a 3-4 defensive end, though he could possibly fit as a 5-tech end in an over or under 4-3 set. He is squatty at 6’1″ and 300 pounds, with the strength to play nose, but lacks the ideal size.

Market Value: Paea is coming off the most productive season of his career, having recorded six sacks and 33 tackles as a 16-game starter, and he’s not quite 27 yet (he’ll be 27 in May). Despite his lack of a body of work, he has the measurables, and potential to attract some attention from a team in need of a 3-4 end or a 4-3 defensive tackle. He can probably look forward to a three or four year deal from some team, and earn as much as $15M-$20M.

Would he sign with the Raiders: No. The free agent market is too strong for a team with as much buying power as the Raiders to end up with a middling player like Paea. Paea may not even be a better fit for the team than players available in this years’ draft, and he may not even be an improvement over Antonio Smith as a 3-technique tackle.

Tomorrow: Defensive ends.