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2021 NFL Draft Profile: How Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye fits with the Colts

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Paye is projected to be one of the first pass rushers off the board on draft night.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Florida v Michigan Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michigan Wolverines pass rusher Kwity Paye has been selected by the Indianapolis Colts. The great news for Paye is that — despite some ups and downs at Michigan — he fits the bill of what several they will be looking for.

Here is a snapshot on Paye’s background and what he can bring to the NFL team that calls his name on draft night.

Info

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 261 pounds

School: Michigan

Position: EDGE

Projected: 1st round

Pro Day Results: 4.54-second 40-yard dash | 36 bench press reps | 35.5 inch vertical jump | 9-foot-10 inch broad jump

He didn’t do the three-cone drill at his pro day but we’ve seen that before and, uh:

Player Comparison: Everson Griffen

Strengths

  • High-character prospect who was a team captain, consistently named among hardest workers in program
  • Effort plays all over film, does not give up when initially beaten and often chased down plays from the back side and made tackles down the field
  • His burst and agility in short areas is impressive, quick off the snap of the football, changes direction well
  • Hand work is strong and his ability to counterpunch was improved in limited action of COVID-impacted season
  • Not just a freak athlete, possesses a power game and packs an impressive punch with his first move, is able to push the pocket
  • Ascending player, traits and work ethic suggest best football still ahead of him

Weaknesses

  • Only 20 starts in college and limited film to go off of from 2020 season
  • Play can be a bit frenetic on the field, needs work in developing a more consistent rush plan and develop counter moves
  • Can be slow to diagnose plays and get caught in the screen game
  • Blockers with comparable traits can get the best of him and slow his progress
  • Versatility as a pass rusher may be limited to a role where his hand is in the dirt, making him a best fit in a even-front scheme

Overview

Paye, who works to be a superhero on the field, tested extremely well during the pre-draft process, which was expected and cemented his status as a first round talent. The biggest knock on him is the lack of polish, but that is a trait he shares with most of his peers in this class in a down year for elite edge rushers. Some players come into the league with similar or superior traits, but do not have the work ethic or awareness to put it together. That will not be the case with Paye, who works with a purpose and is constantly going into the lab to find ways to get better.

Paye will be an NFL starter if he is able to pair his traits with a cerebral, focused plan of attack. That should not be an issue for him, but teams will have to be sold on that. The traits do not always match what shows up on film, which might make it hard for some teams at the top half of the first round to roll the dice. Paye might not be a consistent double-digit sack player at the next level, but has the look of someone who can add seven or eight sacks and a heck of a lot more pressures than that. He also could be someone that teams kick inside on passing downs.

Teams that could make the most sense in the first round are the Dallas Cowboys. Minnesota Vikings, Las Vegas Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Note: I recently spoke about Paye and the draft on an Atlanta-based podcast, which you can check out here.