The statistics from a pass rush standpoint might not have been there for Indianapolis Colts' rookie Kwity Paye, but that should do nothing to lessen the impact the rookie defender had in 2021, showing just how bright of a future the Michigan product has in Indianapolis.
Paye, who was selected 20th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft by General Manager Chris Ballard, quietly worked his way into one of the better pass rushers in the rookie class, easily earning a spot on Pro Football Focus's All-Rookie Team at the conclusion of his first campaign at the pro level.
The first-round pick finished his rookie season with 32 tackles, 4.0 sacks, three tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, finishing with a grade of 69.7 from Pro Football Focus to place him on the All-Rookie team.
There were no questions about Paye’s athleticism coming out of Michigan. He posted a 99th-percentile bench press among edge defenders, a 97th-percentile 40-yard dash and a 76th-percentile vertical jump. And those results leave out the agility drills, which Paye would have likely crushed too, had he tested them officially.
That athleticism flashed in some high-quality pass-rush wins that led to Paye leading all rookie edge defenders with a 71.3 pass-rushing grade. The sack numbers (4.0 sacks) weren’t quite there, but those should come if he continues to win his pass-rushing reps at the same rate he did in 2020.
Paye played just 638 total snaps in 2021, good for 66% of all defensive snaps the Colts had this season. Of those 638 snaps, 399 were deemed pass rush snaps by PFF, which saw Paye create pressure on 39 of them, showing his potential.
Coming out of Michigan, Paye was pretty raw as a pass rusher overall, which was the case throughout his rookie season. That's a tremendous start to his career though, especially as a pass rusher.
Now that he's into his first full offseason as a pro and able to work on his game, expect another sizable leap forward for the athletic defensive end, one that should be able to put him near double digit sacks and hopefully answer a long-term question about the defensive end position in Indianapolis.
Have thoughts on Kwity Paye being named to the All-Rookie team by Pro Football Focus? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!