According to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, the Indianapolis Colts will select Michigan pass rusher Kwity Paye with the 21st overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft in his debut 2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0:
Kwity Paye · Edge rusher
School: Michigan | Year: Senior
The Colts need to address the quarterback spot after Philip Rivers’ retirement. I could see them trading for Sam Darnold or Carson Wentz. I also wouldn’t rule out a trade-up scenario for one of the top four QBs in this draft class. If they stick and pick, I like Paye’s upside as an edge rusher. He’s raw, but the talent is there.
The 6’4”, 272 pound senior Wolverines edge recorded 16 tackles (12 solo), 4.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks during 4 games—as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree during 2020.
Here’s what they’re saying on Paye:
Kwity Paye has officially opted into the 2020 season and will finish out his senior season.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) September 17, 2020
When talking to him, I brought up an interesting comparison of another Wolverine defensive lineman who went onto become a first round pick. pic.twitter.com/NiKvfqS8bn
#Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye had one of the best performances of any prospects during the season opener vs. Minnesota. Easy burst out of the starting blocks, powerful hands, and inside-out versatility.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) October 28, 2020
Easy to see the Brandon Graham comp.pic.twitter.com/tIzKm1lLf7
One of biggest #2021NFLDraft risers will be Michigan DE Kwity Paye— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 25, 2020
2.0 Sacks, 6 QB Pressures vs MIN last night..
I didn't expect him to be so productive on high side rushes - but was dominant last night. Even had some subpackage snaps at NT on 3rd down. Strong player! pic.twitter.com/vbBElU4y8v
Almost half a second faster than Joey Bosa, what the hell https://t.co/fhtr0t3Wln— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) January 21, 2021
Michigan edge Kwity Paye in Week 8 (@PFF_College)— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) October 28, 2020
88.3 pass-rush grade
29.4% win rate
Don't be surprised if Paye ends up one of the top pass-rushers of 2020 from a production standpoint. Clearly has the physical tools and technique is improving. pic.twitter.com/VeGzimieZa
Of course, while starting quarterback and left tackle are arguably greater needs—with bigger holes (depending on if the Colts can re-sign Justin Houston or add another impact edge), Indianapolis no doubt needs a long-term answer at defensive end too.
And Paye could be the best prospect available at the #21 spot.
As mentioned, Houston is a free agent and 32 years old regardless, while 3rd-year pass rusher Kemoko Turay has been limited with a serious ankle injury—and despite flashes, has been inconsistent, still trying to get back to 100% and work off the rust.
Meanwhile, 2019 2nd round pick, 2nd-year pass rusher Ben Banogu, was a healthy scratch down the stretch and needs to make a big leap during his 3rd-season—with considerable improvement.
For what it’s worth, the Colts ranked 12th (tied) in most sacks with 40.0 sacks this past season. Per ESPN analytics, Indianapolis had the 15th highest pass rush win rate at 42%.
Paye is a top pass rushing prospect to watch for Indianapolis.