Stephen Paea is a Bear. Pac-10 offensive linemen have known that, voting him the best defensive lineman in the conference for the second time following last season, after he recorded 45 tackles. But now it's official. The 6'2", 303 lb. Oregon St. DT went to the Chicago Bears on the 21st. pick of the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, the 53rd pick overall. While a little later than most Beaver fans expected and hoped, its an excellent opportunity for the best defensive interior lineman in the Pac-10 last year. The Bears are very thin at DT, with longtime stalwart Tommie Harris having departed with his big contract, and Anthony Adams is a pending free agent.
Paea has the opportunity to start for one of the NFL's legendary defensive units. It's hard to imagine a better outcome for him. Chicago traded away their 4th. round pick in order to move up higher in the 2nd. round in order to ensure they got Paea, and anticipate him making an immediate impact.
Paea was part of a busy second day of the draft, where 10 Pac-10 players plus a pair from Boise St. were taken. Nevada and Hawaii also saw players selected, as the west caught up a little after only three players went in round one.Early in the second round, a couple of signal callers familiar to west coast fans went back to back, as TCU QB Andy Dalton went to Cincinnati, with the third pick, #35 overall, and Nevada QB Colin Kapernick went to San Francisco on the next pick.
UCLA's defensive duo both went in the first half of the second round, as OLB Akeem Ayers went to Tennessee, 7th in the round, and #39 overall, with S Rahim Moore following, going to Denver, 13th. in round 2, and #45 overall.
In addition to Paea, the emphasis on defensive linemen that saw a record number taken in the first round continued, as Arizona DE Brooks Reed went to Houston on the 10th pick in round 2, #42 overall, and USC DT Jurrell Casey joined first day pick Jake Locker at Tennessee, going to the Titans on the 13th pick in round 3, #77 overall.
Boise St. has hung around in the top 10 the last couple of years because Kellen Moore had a pretty good pair of targets in Titus Young and Austin Pettis, both of whom Beaver Nation recall all too well. The draft provided proof of their worth, as Young went to Detroit on the 12th pick in round 2, #44 overall, and Pettis went to St. Louis with the 14th pick in round 3, #78 overall.
California sent two more players to the next level, as RB Shane Vereen was taken by New England with the 24th pick in round 2, #56 overall, and S Christopher Conte will join Paea in Chicago, as the Bears took him with the 29th pick in round 3, #93 overall.
Washington had their other star taken by Tampa Bay, as the Buccaneers took ILB Mason Foster, the Pac-10's leading tackler, in round 3, with the #84 overall pick.
USC had a second player picked as well, as CB Shareece Wright went just down the road to San Diego, as the Chargers selected him with the 25th pick in round 3, #89 overall.
Hawaii RB Alexander Green went to Green Bay, 32nd in round 3, and #96 overall, and Stanford DT Sione Fua rounded out the second round, going to Carolina on a compensatory pick, the 33rd in round 3, and #97 overall.
The NFL draft will continue Saturday, with the final 4 rounds. And hopefully, a call to 'Quizz (Beavers RB Jacauizz Rodgers).