Paye is an athletic, versatile defensive end with plenty of room for growth
Kwity Paye is one of the top defensive end prospects in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. Asked to play both outside and inside at Michigan, Paye used his athleticism and explosiveness to consistently make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage. He will need to refine his techniques and show that he can hold his own against NFL-caliber linemen, but some team may see enough potential in Paye to make him a first-round pick.
(This profile is one of 230 featured in the Athlon Sports 2021 NFL Draft Guide. With in-depth scouting reports on the top prospects, position rankings, and more, no source will have you better prepared for draft day. Click here to get your copy.)
Kwity Paye Draft Profile
Stout, twitched-up and powerful, Paye possesses the explosiveness and get-off that allow him to live in the opponent’s backfield. He played inside and out at Michigan, and he’s at his best when he can attack at an angle off the snap and beat blockers to the punch or power his way through traffic with excellent contact balance, taking the shortest distance to the ball. He’s quick enough and adept at using his hands, resulting in frequent wins on inside moves. He has the bull rush to push blockers into the backfield. As a run defender, he’s solid when asked to set the edge, and his power wreaks havoc on blocking schemes. His motor is very good, and the versatility to line up inside should keep him on the field on passing downs.
Paye is a bit of a straight-line mover, and he doesn’t have the flexibility to be an edge burner; he might be effective moving inside on passing downs. His pass-rush repertoire is thin; he relied mostly on pure physical gifts and initial quickness to beat blockers in college. He’s not particularly long, and that shows up when he struggles to disengage from blockers who square him up and get hands into his chest.
Few linemen in the NFL can match his athletic profile at 275 pounds. The question is whether Paye can develop more as an interior rusher and be consistently disruptive working from the inside. There’s a wide range of potential outcomes and risk that he might top out as a middling pass rusher once he starts going against NFL-caliber offensive linemen.
Final Grade: 1st round