Kwity Paye is an exciting prospect whose potential and physical ability is only now beginning to be realized on the gridiron. There's an extremely high ceiling in Paye's game thanks to his athletic abilities; if his NFL team is able to continue to draw fundamental improvements out of him to allow him to continue to simply react to discard or defeat blocks, he'll be in line for plenty of explosive plays in opposing backfields. The steps Paye made in 2020 during the abbreviated season should only further fuel optimism that his development is still on an upward trajectory. Paye has won in the past most sufficiently from tight alignments and utilized his powerful hands and functional strength to diminish angles and find creases to press through and rally to the football. I do feel he's a bit more of a linear athlete and his ability to collapse tackle sets with speed to power is going to shine more frequently than his reps when looking to crash off the edge and win with finesse. Paye has been forged by fire through a challenging upbringing as an immigrant and finds his "why" in taking care of his family—he's internally driven and appears to be the kind of individual you want in your building to buy into the process. He's a home run from an intangibles, effort, and tools perspective, but his scheme fit is an important accommodation to make for optimal success.
Ideal Role: Starting defensive end (hand in dirt)
Scheme Fit: Even front, single-gap defense.
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Wisconsin (2019), Penn State (2019), Ohio State (2019), Alabama (2019), Minnesota (2020), Michigan State (2020), Penn State (2020)
Best Game Studied: Minnesota (2020)
Worst Game Studied: Alabama (2019)
First Step Explosiveness: The raw power his frame affords him is excellent and while his snap anticipation hasn't always been on par, he's got the ability to gain ground with suddenness and get into the lap of offensive tackles quickly. His twitch is more valuable in softening angles and collapsing tackles to roll through half a man than it is to dip the inside shoulder and take the edge.
Flexibility: His natural athleticism shows more in space than it does when he's charged with reducing the shoulder and crashing off the edge, although he was markedly better in that regard through Michigan's abbreviated season in 2020. There's plenty of hip and knee coil to bend and play below the pads of blockers when playing in alignment; won't often catch him without leverage when fitting up blocks.
Hand Counters: This was a self-described area of improvement this offseason when he spoke with TDN's Jordan Reid and he quickly illustrated improvements to discard blocks and offer more versatility in winning at first contact in 2020 debut vs. Minnesota. Paye has powerful hands and should have plenty of success in his bull, club, push/pull, and long-arm techniques as he continues to develop. An instinctive feel for when to throw and what to throw is still a developing dynamic of his game.
Length: He is physically capable of locking out his arms and successfully walling off blockers from leveraging him out of a gap. Separation skills are disciplined and make him difficult to uproot and move off the line of scrimmage in the run game, which aids in his success at the point of attack. There's room for improvement in flashing hands and coaxing tackles out of their sets prematurely with his length off the edge in his pass rush, but little indication he won't be able to make that progression eventually.
Hand Power: Paye will beat you up at the point of attack, you better be ready to crack down on him for a full 60 minutes. He challenges double teams well thanks to his ability to crack the inside shoulder of the first arriving blocker. His punch and press will bubble the point of attack and derail backs looking to press the line of scrimmage to the perimeter, getting runs off schedule. As a pass rusher, pure power rushes, even from the interior, have created chaos.
Run Defending: Paye has illustrated sound gap discipline from both the interior and the perimeter with his hand in the dirt. The first-step quickness in linear releases allows him to shoot gaps and settle before locating the football when required, but he's also fully capable of pressing and reading a block before progressing to the ball. Athletic prowess in short spaces allows him to quickly disengage and challenge ball carriers working into his gaps.
Effort: It is easy to love what he offers as a rally defender, he'll work off the back side and has the range to chase down runs away just as he has the ability to work back to the quarterback on second and third effort plays to help corral opposing passers. Paye's path to the pros offers encouragement that he possesses the work ethic necessary to continue developing as a player and leveling up his game for his first few seasons in the NFL.
Football IQ: Paye is an ascending prospect but that does mean that he's still green in some areas, especially his pass-rush plan and recruiting hand counters to defeat blocks in real-time. Progression is there and so is the awareness of the need for improvement, but nevertheless, he's not as far along as some other high-prized pass-rush prospects. Discipline is strong as a presence in tight alignments to not prematurely jump out of gaps or concede leverage.
Lateral Mobility: If left in space and forced to play the mesh point, he should be plenty effective with his lateral agility and change of direction skills; he's highly fluid and nimble in such instances thanks to some degree to his awareness to not over-stride or overextend himself.
Versatility: The Wolverines showed a willingness to move Paye all around the defensive front—he's taken reps in the A-gap on speed rush packages, and has been moved between the edge and the B-gap in base front looks as well. He's not a player that is going to find value in coverage, nor will he win from a two-point stance working as a 3-4 OLB given his stature.
Prospect Comparison: Ezekiel Ansah (2013 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions)
TDN Consensus: 86.75/100
Joe Marino: 87.00/100
Kyle Crabbs: 87.00/100
Jordan Reid: 86.00/100
Drae Harris: 87.00/100
- Aug 08, 2022
- Aug 05, 2022