Colts’ defensive end pick Kwity Paye showed why he was taken in the first round as he made one play after another during training camp and the preseason.
Many experts and analysts liked the various and unique traits Paye brought to the table, but weren’t too certain how quickly the rookie would make the necessary adjustments to those traits.
Considered a ‘raw talent’ by multiple analysts coming out of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Colts were determined to help the former Michigan standout add to his arsenal of traits by helping him develop a more rounded pass-rushing tree.
Of course, it’s much easier to do that sort of thing when you have a future Hall of Famer in Robert Mathis, who also happens to be the franchises all-time leader in sacks (123) and forced fumbles (54). Who better to learn from, right?
All Paye did was dominate whenever he got the chance to rush the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, the speedy defensive end finished the preseason with two sacks — including a strip sack against the Detroit Lions in Week 3 — four quarterback hits and 16 hurries.
Overall, the rookie finished with a grade of 94.2, which was sixth-best amongst all rookies and ranked second only to Seattle Seahawks’ linebacker/defensive end, Jon Rattigan, who ranked at a 94.5 for his preseason performances. Also, for qualified rookies playing at least 30 snaps in preseason, Paye actually ranked No. 1 on PFF’s grading scale.
As Paye continues to progress and develop his skills as both a pass rusher and run-stuffing defensive end, his confidence will continue to grow as well.
With every new rep Paye gets, the rookie has said that the game continues to slow down for him.
“I feel great so far,” Paye said just a few weeks ago in a short interview with fellow media members. “I’ve been try to stack the days, brick by brick. Just being able to come out here and improve every single day.”
Additionally, the rookie made sure to express the important role that defensive line coach Brain Baker has played on helping him to improve since his first snap of camp.
“Just trying to break a habit,” Paye said. “To break a habit, you have to keep practicing it. Even though you may not trust it at first, you just gotta keep doing it, and once you really trust it, then it’s gonna be great for you.”
“For me, I keep trying to work my angle,” Paye continued. “He [Baker] keeps saying just ‘aye, widen out, work that angle and just works with what he gives you.’”
Indianapolis has been searching for a more dominant, consistent presence at defensive end, and after dominating throughout camp and during the preseason, the Colts could very well have found their long-term answer in Kwity Paye.