There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it might do so with empty stadiums or a limited schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.
Kwity Paye, true SR
247 Composite Ranking: 3 stars (WDE 29, Overall 486)
2019 Stats: 50 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 6.5 sack
Michigan has been fortunate to feature some great defensive ends under Don Brown, and Kwity Paye belongs right there with the best of them. A solid contributor in his first two years, the edge stepped into a starting role in 2019 and convincingly delivered, earning a honor for second team All-Big Ten and leading the entire defense with 12.5 TFL.
After some NFL consideration, Paye decided to return to Ann Arbor for his senior year. Lining up opposite Aidan Hutchinson, he will have some large responsibilities among the pass rush and must be one of the leaders of the defense. He seems like a good bet to do so, and may still even have some room to grow in his final season.
How good can Paye be during his last tour of duty with the Wolverines?
Paye will line up as the weakside defensive end but is versatile enough to set up on either side. He is a gifted pass rusher, though, and this is how he will primarily be used. What stands out most about him is his consistency, showing great technique and discipline on the edge which he partners with quickness and power. He is a player who has significantly bulked up since coming to Michigan and is now a good bet to be drafted next spring.
With Josh Uche exiting the scene, Paye will have to be a player who can really get after the quarterback. He has shown good ability in the past, but the Wolverines will need him to take another step forward this fall. As good as Hutchinson is, pass rush is not his strongest area, leaving the defense without many clear weapons in this department. This represents a big area for Paye to lead the charge and keep invading the opposing backfield.
Numbers can only paint part of the picture of defenders, but Paye will be put in a position to rack up an impressive stat line should he be able to execute. Particularly, his 6.5 sacks in 2019 were solid, but this is an area where he could continue to grow. As of now, it should be expected for him to lead the team in numbers like sacks and quarterback hurries, as he is the most established pass rusher left on the roster.
Getting Paye back was a big win for Michigan, but it also was a strategic move for the senior. He knows that his game is close to NFL-ready but probably has some room for further development. 2020 will see him shoulder a bigger responsibility, and this is his chance to showcase his ability. Paye does not need to be the flashiest sack machine in college football, but he will need to consistently pummel quarterbacks and cause havoc wherever he can. He and Hutchinson must lead the way for the Wolverines, and the duo has quite the ceiling.