According to NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund, new Indianapolis Colts edge rusher Kwity Paye was one of the 2021 NFL Draft’s ‘top values’ among Day 1 picks—with the 21st overall selection on Thursday evening:
3. Kwity Paye
Michigan · Edge
No. 21 overall
Over the past two seasons, Paye recorded 40 QB hurries (third in Big Ten) and 59 pressures (fifth in Big Ten), according to PFF. The Michigan defender lined up all over the Wolverines’ front and fits like a glove with the Colts, where he’ll likely be used in several different packages and schemes right away. I measured Paye’s burst (the time it takes him to travel two yards from the line of scrimmage), and it was the second-fastest in college football this past season at 0.64 seconds. The edge rusher adds 0.74 wins to the Colts this upcoming season.
The Colts surprisingly did not trade down to accumulate more draft capital, but given Paye surprisingly being available, it was for good reason.
The 6’2”, 261 pound senior Michigan edge recorded 16 tackles (12 solo), 4.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks during 4 games—as a Second-Team All-Big Ten member and Academic All-Big Ten honoree in 2020 respectively.
Featuring speed, athleticism, and strength, while still raw, Paye eventually projects as an every down defensive end at the next level—who may have been incorrectly utilized as a pass rusher for the Wolverines (contributing to the lack of sack output).
He’s an athletic freak, as he not only ranked as The Athletic Bruce Feldman’s #1 freakiest athlete in his ‘2020 College Football Freaks List’, but his 6.37 3-cone time was faster than even Kansas City Chiefs blazing fast wideout Tyreek Hill (6.53).
Athletically, one pro comparison is to Denver Broncos’ Pro Bowl pass rusher Bradley Chubb, who was the 2018 NFL Draft’s 5th overall pick.
Expectations should be tempered a bit initially out of the gates, as Paye still needs to be coached up and further developed as a rookie. That being said, given the talent, ability, potential, and his underlying character/work ethic, and his sky is truly the limit.
If he puts it all together on the field, he has a chance to be the Colts’ next great edge—and was great value at the #21 spot for a defense desperately needing ‘juice’ at defensive end.