2021 NFL Draft: Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye is on the rise

2021 NFL Draft prospect Kwity Paye #19 of the Michigan Wolverines (Photo by Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
2021 NFL Draft prospect Kwity Paye #19 of the Michigan Wolverines (Photo by Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye has massive upside as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect.

The Michigan Wolverines took care of business in their 49-24 season-opening win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday. Quarterback Joe Milton was the star of the show for the Wolverines, but their defense was also impressive, led by exciting edge rusher Kwity Paye. Paye is establishing himself as a top-tier 2021 NFL Draft prospect and his performance on Saturday certainly helped.

Paye absolutely man-handled the Minnesota offensive line in this one, piling up four total tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. He was extremely disruptive throughout the game and has undoubtedly set himself up for a big 2020 season.

Paye received a ton of attention a couple of months ago when he was featured as the number one player on Bruce Feldman’s 2020 college football freaks list. According to Feldman, the 6-foot-4, 271-pound Paye was “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. 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.”

If these athletic testing numbers are even close to accurate, Paye is going to be the talk of the combine next year, showing an extremely rare combination of size and athleticism on the edge. That expected combine performance paired with a strong season on the field will lead to an explosive 2021 NFL Draft stock for Paye.

Right now, Paye is considered by most to be a fringe first-round prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft class. However, if he can continue to put up big numbers and show off his athletic upside, the sky is in the limit.

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This class of edge rushers is not exactly loaded at the top. Miami’s Gregory Rousseau is commonly considered the top prospect at the position, but he is far from a finished product and is sitting out the 2020 season. If Paye can start to reach his ceiling this season and test like the athletic freak that he is at the combine, he could end up being the first edge rusher off of the board in the 2021 NFL Draft class.