As we draw closer and closer to draft night, we continue to look at prospects who could make sense for the Eagles at 12th overall in the first round. Next up on our prospect profile breakdown is Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye.
While defensive end isn’t a huge need for this team, Howie Roseman has a history of selecting defensive lineman in the top half of the draft. Paye is widely considered the No. 1 edge rusher in this draft class and he has all of the physical tools to become a Pro Bowler at the next level.
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons in Paye’s game and how he might fit in Jonathan Gannon’s defensive system.
In a draft class full of freakish athletes, Kwity Paye may be the top overall athlete in the entire class. Standing at 6’4”, 272, Paye is by far the quickest defensive end entering the draft this year. His first step typically catches opposing offensive lineman off guard because of how quick it is, and he follows through with aggressive hands and a high motor.
He’s a smart pass rusher who always attempts to take the fastest route to the quarterback. Paye rarely takes the wrong angle when fighting with offensive tackles — once he gains a step on him, he turns the corner at almost a 90 degree angle to get the passer.
Paye often uses leverage to his advantage, too. He does a nice job of getting low in his pass rushes and getting under tackles’ shoulder pads. When he gets past the blocker, his closing burst is unworldly. Even when he’s met with double teams, Paye is strong enough to split them and still make plays on the ball.
If you need proof of just how athletic Paye is, just take a look at his Pro Day numbers. His time on the three-cone drill, which is one of the most important drills in evaluating how well a defensive lineman can move, Paye ran an astounding 6.5 seconds. That’s the best mark of any defensive lineman entering the draft this century by nearly three-tenths of second.
Paye also ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, placing him in the 97th percentile among defensive ends historically, and he put up 36 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press (99th percentile).
Paye has improved his game every step of the way during his collegiate career. He’s a hard worker who cares about his craft. With his pure physical ability, that work ethic is what will separate him from other pass rushers in this draft class.
While Paye has all the talent in the world, he never put it all together at Michigan to become the next dominant pass rusher out of the BIG 10. His high motor and physical tools were often too much for opposing offensive lineman to handle, but he rarely showed any kind of nuance in his pass rushing arsenal.
See ball, get ball by any means necessary is the best way to describe how Pay played on Saturdays.
But as I stated under the strengths, his work ethic is there. Couple that with his physical gifts and you have a special defensive lineman in the making.
If he’s drafted to the Eagles, he won’t be forced to start right away either, which is a good thing for his development. Using him as a situational pass rusher would suit his skill set in year one. But by his second or third year, he should be developed enough to be a three-down defensive end. And a damn good one at that.
There are clearly bigger needs facing this team than defensive end, but given Howie’s tried and true team building philosophy, we shouldn’t be shocked if he decides to take Paye with the 12th overall pick.
It’s hard to say flat-out that picking Paye would be a mistake because his upside is so great, there are just bigger needs that need to be addressed at 12th overall. With that being said, whoever selects Paye will be getting a great pass rusher with unbelievable physical tools who has the work ethic and desire to hone in on his technique.
To me, he is the best pass rusher entering this year’s draft and he’ll immediately make any team’s pass rushing group better.