2024 NFL Draft Riser — No. 5: Patrick Payton, EDGE, Florida State
Rather than sleeping on this final entry on the list, I was actually fairly early on Patrick Payton’s ascent up draft boards. He laid claim to a Round 2 grade entering the year and has since boosted that to a fringe Day 1 grade. The reason? Payton is showing elite flashes as a pass rusher in Tallahassee.
Playing opposite Jared Verse will make life easier for anybody, but Payton deserves flowers himself. His 13 total pressures on the season reads as a slight disappointment; there’s no denying it. However, he is consistently in the backfield, even if the sack eludes him in the end.
Finishing the play is a key area for development, but Payton often does the hardest part of the equation. At 6-foot-5 and weighing 239 pounds, the Florida State defender has the traits to be an outside linebacker at the next level. He is not bad in any phase of the game, profiling as the rare high-floor, high-ceiling prospect.
Payton’s best football is still in front of him. It’s not often that a player has a more successful NFL career than collegiate career, but this is an instance where that could be the case. Look deeper than the box score when evaluating any pass rusher, especially Patrick Payton.