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Colts' Second-Year Defender Projected To Break Out In 2022 By PFF

After closing the 2021 season in strong fashion, Indianapolis Colts' second-year defensive end Kwity Paye is poised for a breakout season, according to Pro Football Focus.

A slow start to his career in Indianapolis raised some concerns for 2021 first-round draft pick Kwity Paye, especially after he was inactive due to a hamstring injury for two weeks early in the year. 

Once he got his legs underneath him though, Paye went on a tear down the stretch, recording all four of his sacks in 2021 after Week 10, including a three-week stretch from Week 10-12 that saw him record a sack in each game. 

Now, after closing the season on a high note against the run and as a pass rusher, Paye is in line for a breakout season in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus's Kambui Bomani, who listed Paye as one of six AFC breakout candidates Thursday. 

"Paye registered a 77.5 pass-rushing grade in true pass sets last year, a top-35 mark among all pass-rushers. He also recorded a 20% win rate while totaling 20 hurries, three hits and four sacks on those reps — all in his first NFL season," Bomani writes. "Paye’s pass-rushing grade was the highest of all Colts edge rushers, and he racked up the second-most pressures on the team (39). With the pre-draft addition of Yannick Ngakoue into the fold, Paye’s numbers could increase this year with a bookend edge rusher on the opposite side.

"Paye’s rookie impact went under the radar because he didn’t have the sack numbers of a Micah Parsons," Bomani added. "However, he has the potential to build upon that in 2022, and a change in scheme with added reinforcements can elevate him into a prime AFC breakout candidate."

While the overall raw numbers weren't there entirely for Paye, a deeper dive revealed just how impactful he was as a rookie, highlighted by his 39 pressures, which was second on the team in 2021 as Bomani points out. 

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Eventually, those pressures turn into sacks, and with the addition of Yannick Ngakoue opposite him on the Colts' defensive line, Paye could be in line for a number of one-on-one pass rush reps, which should be a huge boon for him in his second season. 

It'll be interesting to see the Year 2 improvements on the field in training camp from Paye, who was a rather raw defensive end coming out of Michigan who was known more for his relentless motor than his actual pass rushing chops. 

In a new, attacking defense under first-year coordinator Gus Bradley, Paye should see a significant jump in his overall pressures and sack numbers, assuming he's able to stay healthy for all 17 games in his second season. 

Have thoughts on PFF listing Colts' second-year pass rusher Kwity Paye as a breakout candidate in the AFC? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!

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