2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan

Some early mock drafts have projected Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye to the Giants. So let's take a look at what he brings to the table.
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Edge KWITY PAYE 

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 271 lbs.
Class: Senior
School: Michigan


Kwity Paye is a former three-star recruit out of Bishop Hendrickson High School in Warwick, Rhode Island. The same school that produced many former professional athletes, maybe most notably Will Blackmon of the NFL Network. Paye was the 486th ranked recruit in the 2017 class, according to 247 Sports.

Paye had a breakout junior season in 2019. He racked up 12.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, and 50 tackles. He finished his career in Ann Arbor with 23.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, and 97 tackles. Paye is a two time All Big-10 honoree, and he was voted team captain in 2020 by his teammates and coaches while also being an academic All Big-10 honoree.

His linear speed and lower body explosiveness were on display in high school; he was a part of the 4x100 meter relay team that won the state championship, and he also won the state championship as a long jumper for Rhode Island (jumped 21 feet and 5 inches). For football, he was the Rhode Island player of the year in 2016.

Legendary Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown was quoted saying this about Paye:

Kwity is an unbelievable athlete. He plays tailback as well as a defensive end. He could play up and down on defense, which is another sign of his athleticism. I have worked with him personally. He is an outstanding pass rusher, and his size potential is off the charts. I anticipate him being an open side defensive end along with the potential to play in packages with his pass-rush ability. We are glad to have him here at Michigan.


Injuries

He missed the 2020 games against Wisconsin and Rutgers with a groin strain.


Traits

Solid frame that can add a little weight who possesses good overall athletic ability. He has good lateral agility, flexibility in his hips, and solid burst-- he isn’t going to win consistently with speed rushes up the arc, although his first step is good. 

He has good linear explosiveness in space and plays with excellent leverage at the point of attack. He has a low compact stance on the line of scrimmage and plays base end in a four-down front, and can kick inside on passing downs. He has thick legs and a strong base.


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Paye has very good hand technique and does a good job reacting and taking advantage of tackles with his hands. Hands carry pop, and he has a solid bull rush move due to his good play strength. Paye has flashed counters, a nice rip/dip move at the top of the arc, and does a good job keeping his chest clean.

He has a pass rush plan and does a good job adjusting his plan on the blocker’s reactions. He keeps the surface area of his chest hard to obtain for tackles with positioning and active hands. 

Fluid hips and leverage allow him to slide his outside arm underneath the tackle’s inside shoulder to shed and create rushing lanes in the B-Gap. He could be better with cornering at the top of the pass-rushing arc. Works well through lateral contact to avoid brute force and gain a half-man relationship. He doesn’t have ideal ankle flexibility.

He plays with a high motor and shows excellent competitive toughness. He isn’t fooled much as a defender, which is a strong testament to his football intelligence. He is one of the better run defending ends in the draft; he does a good job constricting and narrowing the B-gap--he is very disciplined. 

He also sets the edge well, uses every bit of his solid length to keep tackles off him, and reacts well to the running back’s path - plays with excellent vision.

He is a very smart player who has positional versatility. He has played on both sides of the line and can kick inside on obvious pass-rushing downs. He does well with softer angles rushing from the wide-9, but his best fit would be in tighter alignments to maximize his hand technique and counters.

Overall, a very smart and good run defender who can rush the passer with superior hand technique. He has good overall athletic ability and is going to be a good football player. 

If I’m going to find flaws, I question his ability to consistently corner in tight spaces around tackles with pure speed on ghost techniques due to some stiffness in his ankles, lack of elite bend, and an inability to stay low up the arc consistently. 


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