According to The Athletic’s ‘One Percent Better’ with Zak Keefer and Stephen Holder, the Indianapolis Colts had prized Virginia Tech left tackle Christian Darrisaw as the logical pick at #21 overall—before Michigan edge Kwity Paye surprisingly fell into the team’s laps:
“So they thought he (Paye) might go as high as #10,” said Keefer. “Which is very telling, right? That’s how they had their board. Their board is not going to look like a lot of the mock drafts you see out there. I think a lot of NFL teams would probably agree with that.”
“And basically, the decision was made before Thursday night rolled around for the first round of the draft. You know, they had (Christian) Darrisaw on the board, and it was Darrisaw, and they liked Darrisaw, but they loved Kwity Paye. And I think that’s what came through.”
“. . . We’ll see what kind of player Christian Darrisaw becomes. Maybe that’s the comparison we have for years to come. But they addressed the left tackle issue a week later, so you could say that they killed two birds with one stone.”
Paye shockingly being available made the pick easy for Indianapolis, as there didn’t appear to be much internal draft room deliberation ahead of the eventual Paye pick.
Only smiles, sighs of relief, and high fives.
The Colts happily put Paye’s name on the draft card (and the rest is history).
Right now, the early results appear to be at least encouraging:
Darius Leonard on Colts' first-round pick Kwity Paye: "He's everything we need. That motor, that meanness ... I just want guys who are gonna come in and be a dog."— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) May 18, 2021
Truth be told, some Colts fans were livid when Indianapolis failed to take an offensive tackle within their first two draft selections. However, given the following Eric Fisher signing, and taking the top talent available simply makes sense now—especially given the Colts’ otherwise depleted edge group.
Yes, there’s still some concern whether Fisher’s surgically repaired Achilles will hold up and whether he can regain his prior 2x Pro Bowl form in Indianapolis—and just when exactly he’ll be ready to return to the field.
Yes, Christian Darrisaw is a fine left tackle prospect in his own right—and may go down as a multiple Pro Bowler himself. (He was taken 2 picks later by the Minnesota Vikings at #23.)
However, the Colts clearly felt conviction regarding Paye, and not just that he was a worthy selection at #21, but that he was simply a steal at that spot—as they never expected him to realistically be there that potentially franchise-altering Thursday night in the first place.
Until he was.