Kwity Paye 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
Michigan edge prospect Kwity Paye is adjudged by the consensus to be a lock for the first round in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft and is a genuine challenger for DE1 status. Here we assess whether Paye deserves such a high draft grade and look at where his best position may be in the NFL.
Kwity Paye NFL Draft Profile
Kwity Paye - Edge, Michigan
Height - 6’4
Weight - 272lbs
Class - Senior
Hometown - Providence, Rhode Island
Kwity Paye has an interesting backstory, he was born in Guinea during the Liberian Civil War and due to the civil unrest from their neighbouring country his Mother moved her family to a refugee camp in Sierra Leone.
Eventually they were taken in by the US and moved to Rhode Island. He made a promise to his mother that he would pay for college if he could get into Bishop Hendricken High School.
He achieved this promise and played running back, occasionally safety before he eventually settled on the defensive line. He also ran relay in the 4x100m team and won the state long jump as a junior. He was a 3-star recruit and originally committed to Boston College but when defensive coordinator Don Brown went to Michigan, Paye followed suit.
He finishes his career with the Wolverines with 38 games 56 solo tackles, 23 for a loss, 11.5 sacks along with one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
Paye has a powerful build with plenty of muscle mass in his legs and a thick waist which he uses well to get underneath leverage on his initial engagement with opposing linemen. He stays low on contact and can force opposing tackles to bend at the waist giving Paye an advantage on using speed to power rush. Tackles must know this is coming from him, but it still remains an extremely impactful go-to move for him.
His inside counter pre-contact with a stutter step really shows his ability to shoot a gap. If a lineman drops too deep in his pass set Paye has shown that he can exploit this.
Paye has played all along the line and is comfortable rushing from the middle or the edge, as the defensive scheme in Michigan requires the linemen to be interchangeable during an opposing team’s drive. He has an extremely high motor, so you better be ready to play when opposite him, his effort is consistent and has plenty of pace to chase down plays from the backside down the line.
Shows excellent knee bend and raw power on contact with very little backwards movement, but I would like to see a stiff arm move more as when he manages to lock his arms he can successfully shield off his opponent.
Due to the threat he poses he is frequently double teamed and challenges these well due to his ability to latch onto the inside shoulder of his blockers.
On run defense he maintains gap discipline but shows inconsistency and at times plays too high, allowing opposing lineman to control him and move him off his spot. This shows up against Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills in the Alabama Citrus Bowl.
Doesn’t have a huge amount of bend, will occasionally attempt a dip on the tackle’s outside shoulder as part of his pass rush arsenal however this isn’t an area of strength allowing a tackle to push him past the quarterback.
He needs to win on early contact, against longer offensive lineman his hands will offer few counters and at times his feet stop moving.
When using stunts his gap recognition and burst is good but too frequently he allows an inside guard or center to recover and redirect him, he must keep his body clean of contact whilst the play is disrupted you’d rather have a sack than a loss of down due to a QB throwaway. Works far better on stunts working out-to-in than in-to-out again due to lack of true bend.
Coming from a background of personal hardship he has the motivation to succeed. He was on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List for the athletic attributes he possesses, and this is instantly recognisable when watching the tape.
His cat-like 3-point stance at the line of scrimmage and ability to drive and stay low means he does not look his 6’4 build but his compact power and burst show him to be constantly disruptive. The knock on him will be the lack of elite level production for what is being discussed as a top-15 pick, but there are so many plays on film where he is affecting a QB by flushing or forcing an early release than shows up in the box score.
He aligns best as an outside end in a 4-3 defensive front with his hand in the dirt. He loses too much burst from a 2-point stance and works better when he can take a full step or stutter to a tackle to use his speed to power rush. I can see work on the interior of the line on obvious 3rd and long situations, it wouldn’t be out of the question at 5 tech, due to aforementioned versatility, but a permanent move here may be a mistake due to the lack of length.
As with most college prospects who are physically powerful at this position, hand counters will be a coaching point. At times, he wins because he is better at using his size and more powerful than his opponent, but this alone is impressive to watch as he knows how to use his own athletic traits effectively.
I expect him to impress in testing/pro-day drills and be an early Round 1 pick with immediate impact and future potential.
Top 10; 1st Round Selection
Michigan Vs Minnesota - ESPN
Michigan Vs Penn State - https://youtu.be/NdZyVLQLnSE
Michigan Vs Alabama (Citrus Bowl) - https://youtu.be/D8UqwKg-OeY
Michigan Vs Maryland - Limited Highlights - https://youtu.be/f7UQ21k9vIc
Michigan Vs Northwestern - Limited Highlights - https://youtu.be/ko5Rq1GXK70