Two months after minor knee surgery, former Oregon State defensive lineman Stephen Paea worked out for NFL scouts in his personal pro day Thursday on campus.
He was thrilled with his performance under the circumstances. He recorded a career-best time in the 40-yard dash in 5.15 seconds.
Paea also ran agility drills, position drills and jumped. He had a 31-inch vertical leap and 8-foot broad jump.
"It was a lot of pressure," Paea said of the spotlight on him only. "It was all mental coming into this pro day. I've done (these workouts) a lot the last two weeks. I treated this as a game."
About 15 scouts returned to OSU to see Paea, a potential first-round pick in April's draft. About 25 scouts were at OSU's annual team pro day on March 11.
Paea couldn't work out at the first pro day because he wasn't fully healed from the surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus he suffered at the first practice of the Senior Bowl on Jan. 24.
"I feel really good right now," Paea said. "I got to showcase what I have now. If it was three weeks later I would have been better. But I showed them my knee is healthy and can get even better."
Paea started light jogging five weeks ago and training for this workout two weeks ago. Thursday was the first time he went full speed since the injury.
Even with the limited workouts he weighed in at a trim 299.4 pounds. The goal was to be 300 pounds.
Paea didn't do the bench press Thursday. He already set the NFL Scouting Combine record of 49 reps of 225 pounds on Feb. 27. That was the only physical test he performed there due to his knee injury.
"I thought coming into today my knee was 85-90 percent," Paea aid. "Coming in today I felt I needed a great performance, and I did for what my knee had."
Paea now waits for the NFL draft April 28-31. He might have invitations for private workouts with teams until then.
With the NFL lockout in effect, Paea and others won't be able to sign a pro contract. He plans to stay in shape until he can sign, and return to OSU for a second degree if there is no season.
"It's beyond my control," Paea said "I just have to do what I can control and hope I have a job in a few months."
Paea thought about leaving OSU early a year ago when he was considered a second- or third-round pick and there was an NFL season to prepare for.
"I didn't regret coming back at all," Paea said. "I was able to be a kid one more year and I got my degree."
Cliff Kirkpatrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.