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Colts’ Kwity Paye ranked as PFF’s highest-graded rookie defensive lineman in NFL

Kwity Paye is slowing coming along, as he Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded defensive lineman in the NFL.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Rookie first-round pick Kwity Paye has had a bit of a slow start to his NFL career, but has continued to progress well throughout the last couple of games.

His growth hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. In Sunday’s win against the San Francisco 49ers, Paye helped force a key turnover when he applied pressure on 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, forcing him into the waiting arms of Al Quadin-Muhammad, who forced the fumble which Paye ended up recovering.

Currently, according to Pro Football Focus, Paye is the highest-graded rookie defensive lineman with a grade of 76.1. Johnathan Cooper of the Denver Broncos is the next closest lineman with a grade of 73.3.

While the rookies’ numbers may not stand out, Paye has been an excellent run-stopper, as PFF also has him ranked as the league’s fourth-best in that category. Through seven weeks, Paye has 11 total tackles, including 4 assisted.

It should be noted that Paye did miss a couple of games with a hamstring injury which he suffered against the Tennessee Titans back in Week 3. Since he’s returned, the rookie’s made quite the impact.

Indy’s pass rush hasn’t been great throughout the season, and it’s a big part of the reason for their 0-3 start. But the Colts have gotten better in that area over the last couple of weeks.

Sure, the Colts’ pass-rushing numbers may tell a different story, but oftentimes muddying an opposing quarterbacks’ pocket can lead to errant throws and mistakes; like what we saw from Garoppolo on Sunday.

We’re only seven weeks into a 17-game season. The expectation of the Colts’ pass rush should remain the same, and it without question has to drastically improve as the season goes on. Indy has invested far too many resources into their defensive line — like first and second-round picks — to not have a more consistent pass rush.

For now, though, I think it’s only fair to temper expectations for the rookie a bit and let him develop into what the Colts need him to be for their defense going forward.