Kwity Paye announced his plan to return to the Michigan Wolverines football team just before the bowl game against Alabama. His decision was monumental to the defense as it kept two cornerstone pieces on the edge for Don Brown’s defense alongside Aidan Hutchinson.
We all know the size and speed that Kwity Paye combines, but national pundits have begun to recognize the unique talent that he is. Bruce Feldman from The Athletic annually compiles his top-50 ‘freakiest’ athletes in college football ($), and this year, Paye sits atop of his rankings.
The Wolverines have a few special athletes on their defensive line (Aidan Hutchinson also possesses impressive agility for his size), but the 6-4, 271-pound Paye (50 tackles, 12.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks) has generated a lot of buzz among the NFL scouting community for some remarkable wheels. He clocked the second-best 3-cone time on the team at a blistering 6.37 seconds, which would have topped anyone at the 2020 combine. Paye’s 40 is also moving at 4.57, with a solid 34-inch vertical and 30 reps on the bench press. Paye’s 40 time and 4.15 pro shuttle time are better than any D-lineman or edge player who tested at the 2020 combine. His 11.3 time in the 60-yard shuttle is also elite. Paye, a former high school running back who reported to Ann Arbor at 228 pounds, was a member of a state championship 4×100 meter relay team in high school and also won a state title in the long jump, going 21 feet, 5 inches as a junior. He has a rare blend of strength, control and balance and his change of direction is probably even better than former Wolverine Freak Rashan Gary.
In case you were wondering, other players who have been ranked the No. 1 on Bruce Feldman’s ‘freakiest’ rankings include Saquon Barkley, Myles Garrett, and Jadeveon Clowney. Putting Paye’s name along with NFL superstars like that places him at an elite level when it comes to expectations for the 2020 campaign.
Clearly Paye has the tools, but can he produce at that high of a level? Feldman brought up Rashan Gary, and Gary’s production has always been the biggest knock on the young talent. Now, Paye has already produced more than Gary did at Michigan, but even so, if Paye truly wants to be held to the same standard as Garrett and Clowney, he needs to be an absolute force when he hits the field again in Ann Arbor. Especially if he hopes to be drafted as highly as the other aforementioned ‘freaks’ that have donned the No. 1 spot from Feldman.
Paye was one of two Wolverines to make the Top-50 as Nico Collins joined the mix as one of the final names mentioned. Coming in at No. 47 overall, Collins may have the opportunity to be a big-time receiver because of the rich history his offensive coordinator has in developing them:
Josh Gattis has produced a bunch of big-time receivers over the past decade, and Collins is the latest in the pipeline. Last season the Alabama native caught 37 passes for 729 yards with a team-leading seven touchdowns and 19.7 yards per catch. The 6-4, 222-pound senior is a very dynamic athlete, running the 40 in the 4.4s, and his coaches rave about his toughness and body control.
We all have seen the acrobatic catches and straight bullying of corners that Collins has displayed over the last few years. If he can replicate that, get better with his hands, and have a quarterback that can consistently hit him on long ball throws, he is going to wreak havoc on secondaries in the Big Ten this season.
There is a lot of promise in both Paye and Collins for the upcoming season. Hopefully, we will see both flourish on the field and develop into NFL talent in 2020.