.By Dylan MacKinnon
It should be no surprise to anyone that the Eagles are considering a DE with the 12th overall pick. From 2010 to 2020 4 of their 10 first round picks were defensive linemen. And to be fair, Defensive End is a under rated need for this team with them being committed to very few starter quality ends long term. But in a draft that is not defensive line heavy, and with so many other immediate needs, would they take one this year. Lets look at Michigan’s Kwity Paye, whose name has recently been attached to the Eagles.
The biggest positive trait that stands out for Paye is his raw strength and athleticism. Most of his measurables are either in the elite category, or near it. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic wrote about him before the season, calling him the biggest freak in college football. In this context “freak” is very much a compliment. This is what Feldman wrote about Paye’s 2020 combine performance.
“He clocked the second-best 3-cone time on the team at a blistering 6.37 seconds, which would have topped anyone at the 2020 combine. Paye’s 40 is also moving at 4.57, with a solid 34-inch vertical and 30 reps on the bench press. Paye’s 40 time and 4.15 pro shuttle time are better than any D-lineman or edge player who tested at the 2020 combine. His 11.3 time in the 60-yard shuttle is also elite.”
And if you still doubt his “freakish” strength, check out this workout video Paye posted on Twitter.
200lb kettlebell in my hands plus 3 weight vests 🥶 pic.twitter.com/lq8NCQS3nq— Kwity Paye (@OfficialKwity) January 21, 2021
He’s handling a weight that weighs more than some of the top prospects with ease. Paye is faster and stronger than most defensive ends you will see. The question will be if he can turn that into production
Raw Technique Wise
The questions for Paye will come from his lack of experience, and his still developing pass rush skills. Paye has started only 19 collegiate games, and has only 11.5 sacks. Many scouts say his technique can be a bit sloppy. Also his instincts aren’t great just yet, and he has had some issues being fooled by misdirections.
But with that said, the underlying numbers are promising, and show a player who could be elite if his new team clean up the technique issues. In terms of Pass Rush Win rate, he was tops in the Big 10, and by a large margin.
Highest pass-rush win % in the Big Ten— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 2, 2020
1. Kwity Paye, Michigan - 27%
2. Shaka Toney, Penn St - 19%
3. Jayson Oweh, Penn St - 18% pic.twitter.com/ozTjaB7Qv7
So even with poor technique, he is still one of the more productive players out there. The hope would be that he will be truly elite with good coaching. You can teach a guy technique. You can’t teach a guy to have his mix of power and speed.
His elite power and speed are surprisingly not the most extraordinary thing about him. Paye began his life in a refugee camp in Guinea, Africa. He was too young when his family moved to America to really remember his time there, but it impacted his life in other ways. Hallie Grossman of ESPN wrote a fantastic piece about Paye’s story that you should read when you get a chance, but I will give you the cliff notes here.
Paye and his brother were often bullied for being refugees. When he went to start playing sports, and all he has was a green card. The other kids noticed that difference, and it became a source for teasing towards Paye.
“They would make fun of us,” Kwity says. “Say, ‘You’re an African booty scratcher.’ I was, like, ‘What do they even mean?'”
It was in football, that Paye found his place, as Grossman wrote.
“He took off running, lofted the ball high over his head. The coach sprinted too, keeping Kwity’s pace on the sideline, hollering at Kwity to keep the ball close to his chest. No matter. Even with Kwity holding the football aloft ball security be damned — he was uncatchable.
From that point forward, Kwity approached the game with a moonlike gravity. He woke up early on game days and begged his mom for a pass from church on football Sundays, wary that services would make him late for his game.”
Paye is more than a Football player, he is someone who more than earned his place. His story is incredible. After you read this, you should definitely read the full story about his road to Football and his family’s history over at ESPN. But what you need to know, is Paye is dedicated. He watched how hard his mother worked to get him here, and take care of him and his brother, he is determined to return the favor for her.
What the Experts say
“The explosive testing will surely get teams and evaluators excited, but it might be hard to bang the table for him based on the tape. Paye’s traits and potential should not be discounted, as he’ll continue to be skilled up in technique and fundamentals. However, he’s a choppy-stepping short-strider who doesn’t play with the feel and instincts of an NFL playmaker. He can overcome his lack of stride length as a rusher with a more focused, upfield attack and better hands at the top of his rush, but he might be better-suited as a reduced rusher on passing downs, where his quickness could overwhelm guards. The traits and explosiveness are enticing but the film says “good” rather than “great” at this time”
Mel Kiper- ESPN
“I think he will be more of a sack guy in the NFL. Turned loose, he’s got more versatility. He’s a freakish talent. Tremendous test numbers. Athletic, physical numbers. And the attitude, approach — it’s fierce, and he hustles, and he plays hard. So, I think there’s the indication there is that once we get him in the NFL and coach him up, he can be a really good — maybe a 10 sack a year guy.”
Recent news that Eagles are high on Paye hasn’t gone over super well on Eagles Twitter. DE isn’t a position Eagles fans really want them to target. And Paye would be another project for a team that has taken a lot of them. But with Paye’s crazy measurable, and his determination to be great, in could be a sneaky great pick. Just not one that will go over well the day of the draft. But to be fair, it didn’t go over well the last time the Eagles took a Michigan DE. And Now Brandon Graham is a fan favorite, and one of the best Eagles of the last decade.