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Quick Hits: Chris Ballard Talks Kwity Paye, Night 1 of NFL Draft

Colts general manager Chris Ballard spoke with the media Thursday night after selecting Kwity Paye in Round 1.
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Arguably the best way to acquire high-end pass-rushing talent in the NFL is to draft and develop it.

The Indianapolis Colts finally had that opportunity fall in their lap on Thursday night as they selected Michigan edge defender Kwity Paye with the 21st overall pick.

In Paye, they finally get a potentially game-wrecking defensive end, and general manager Chris Ballard spoke with reporters about it at the end of the night.

Here are the quick hits:

Paye was an easy pick, and he was too good to pass up for trade offers to move back: The Colts love the player and person they got in Paye, and it was an easy pick for them to make. Although they had an offer to trade back and acquire more picks, the chance for them to get Paye was too good to pass up.

Good night for the Colts. Good night for our city. I couldn’t be more excited. Look, I’ve made some pretty easy picks where you just knew and you pull the card and it was an easy pull. Pulling the card of Kwity Paye was very easy.

Stands for everything we want to stand for. He’s in a position that we all know is important at defensive end. We think he’s got really big upside. We think he’s going to continue to get better. He’s going to add to our front.

He’s got an unbelievable story and I just feel very fortunate tonight. Sometimes it goes your way and tonight we feel like it went our way.

We had opportunities to move back that I think you all know that we like to do, but we loved the player and the price of moving back we just didn’t think it was worth it. The ability to get a pass rusher with high character that stands for all the values that we do as an organization and is going to be a great representative of our club and the city we just thought was too strong to pass up. But can’t be more excited about it. This guy is going to be a tremendous player for us...

It was easy. It was really easy. We had a trade offer – it wasn’t enough to pass the player we were going to take. It just wasn’t enough value for us to say, ‘Let’s move and pass a player that we think very highly of that fits our culture and fits what we want to do.’

Paye's high motor, effort level, and desire to get back fit into the Colts' culture perfectly: While many new players may need to kick up their old habits a notch to fit in with the Colts, Paye is already there.

We think he’s got really high upside, George (Bremer), and his tape is good. Kwity has got really good tape and he fits our scheme really well.

The one thing with him – the effort that our players defensively – it’s an adjustment for new players that come into the building whether they’re rookies or free agents. It won’t be an adjustment for him. He plays the way we want to play.

Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye tackles Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford during the second half of Michigan's 27-17 loss at Michigan Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020.
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Paye's energy and style of play popped on-screen: You want to see guys separate themselves from the pack on tape, and Paye did just that.

It was really easy because his energy – you always look for guys who pop. Do they pop on tape when you’re watching – all 22 of them – who pops off the tape? And Kwity pops off the tape.

One, with his athleticism and his speed but also with his effort. This kid, he already plays the way we want to play. He is going to fit in pretty quickly. I know our defensive players were pretty excited. I heard from a few of them.

The Colts still need an offensive tackle but Paye was clearly the best player on the board for them: Ballard has to remind people every year that they draft based on the best player available and not need. In this instance, Paye was the best player available and filled a need.

Yes, that’s very fair. We talk about this all the time, when you force something you usually create two holes and you can’t do that in the draft. You have to take what you think is the best player at the time.

Look, if it’s even, then sure we’ll take the need. But we didn’t think it was even. We thought we acquired a player that has got some unique talent and the character to match – that’s hard. Like I think that’s one of the things that people don’t realize. It’s easy to draft talent – that’s not hard to do. But to draft talent with character, that’s difficult. That doesn’t always come together and we’ve been really fortunate around here to be able to do it. That’s part of who we are and what we look for.

Our scouts do a tremendous job vetting each and every player and we have a very strict criteria of what we’re looking for and there are guys that we pass that unequivocally could probably help us. It doesn’t make them bad guys, they just don’t fit us – that’s okay. But when you get one that’s got a unique skillset with character, that’s a beautiful thing.

The Colts are in the unique situation of still possibly getting a tackle in Round 2 due to a deep group: While the Colts didn't come away with a new left tackle in the first round, the class is so deep at the position that they should still be able to get one on Friday. Still, they won't force the issue.

One of the things that was interesting about this year and I talked about the depth of the o-line and I do think it’s really good. One of the uncertainties, and there are some really good players on the offensive line, but they weren’t prototypical left tackles. That’s real. It doesn’t mean they can’t do it. As a matter of fact, some of the guys taken we think they can. But they weren’t prototypical, so we like the depth in the draft on the offensive line, but I don’t know how tomorrow is going to go.

If we see a player at another position we like that we think is going to help us get to where we want to go and he’s better than an offensive line position then we’ll take him and then we’ll figure it out as we go along. We’ve a got ways to go before the season starts.

What do you think of the Paye pick? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!

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