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ESPN’s Todd McShay Projects Colts to Select Michigan Edge Kwity Paye in Recent 2021 NFL Mock Draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 Michigan at Indiana Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to ESPN’s Todd McShay (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts will select Michigan edge Kwity Paye with the 21st overall selection in his most recent 2021 NFL Mock Draft:

21. Indianapolis Colts

Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

The Colts lost Denico Autry to the division-rival Titans, and Justin Houston remains unsigned. That means DeForest Buckner is the only player with at least five sacks in 2020 set to return for 2021. Indy’s defensive strength is a big part of its identity, and Paye has explosive speed off the edge. The production hasn’t caught up to the ability just yet, but his ceiling is very high. Alternatively, the Colts could target a defensive back or maybe reach a little bit for a receiver.

During 4 games this past season, the Wolverines’ senior pass rusher recorded 16 tackles (12 solo), 4.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks—earning Second-Team All-Big Ten honors for a consecutive season:

At 6’4”, 272 pounds—with a 4.54 forty time, Paye graded out very well athletically at Michigan’s recent Pro Day (having already showcased a ridiculous three cone time):

He is the type of dynamic young talent physically that the Colts could really use consistently coming off the edge—featuring much needed athleticism, explosion, quickness, and bend:

However, his lack of significant production collegiately is somewhat concerning—especially given some of his dominant athletic traits.

That being said, much like former 2018 second round pick Kemoko Turay was a raw, developing pass rusher—with tantalizing physical tools for the Colts worth rolling the dice on, Paye falls into a similar mold—and to an arguably even greater degree.

Having lost starting defensive end Denico Autry to free agency, and with unsigned veteran Justin Houston a possibility to join him, the Colts could use a game-wrecker off the edge—even with the recent signing of Isaac Rochell and re-signing of Al-Quadin Muhammad.

Paye seems like a ‘boom or bust’ top pass rushing prospect for the Colts, but the athleticism and physical tools are definitely there to ‘dream upon’—especially if he can work with the likes of former Colts sackmaster great Robert Mathis as his new pass rushing sensei.

It’s worth noting that McShay had the Colts selecting Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu with the 54th overall selection in the NFL Draft’s second round:

54. Indianapolis Colts

Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

The Colts crave some cornerback depth behind Xavier Rhodes, Kenny Moore II and Rock Ya-Sin, and Melifonwu has the skills to develop into a really strong press corner.

The 6’3”, 213 pound redshirt junior cornerback was a two-year starter (19 starts) for the Orange, recording 88 tackles (71 solo), 5 tackles for loss, a sack, 26 passes defensed, and 3 interceptions.

He earned 2020 All-ACC honors.

Melifonwu fits the Colts’ ideal prototype at cornerback with size, length, and ball skills—and as a physical and willing run defender:

Of course, even with the re-signing of veteran starter Xavier Rhodes, the Colts could use some additional help at cornerback (and a future starting successor).

Fellow veteran T.J. Carrie remains a free agent, and the team experienced an up-and-down season from 2nd-year cornerback Rock Ya-Sin—while another 2nd-year pro, Marvell Tell, is returning after a season-long absence because of COVID-19 concerns.

Soon-to-be second year pro Isaiah Rodgers is a name to watch in the mix too, but it’s still a cornerback room that could withstand to add another athletic and talented option to compete for a starting role like Melifonwu (especially given Rhodes’ advanced football age bigger picture).