INDIANAPOLIS – The pressing need at edge rusher got some early attention from the Indianapolis Colts
With the 21st overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Colts took Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye in Round One.
Here are 3 takeaways on Paye:
1. Strength, Explosion, Effort
From a frame and length standpoint, Kwity Paye (6-2, 261) isn’t built like a prototypical edge rusher. But where Paye made his presence felt at Michigan is having an incredible blend of strength and explosion. Paye, a team captain at Michigan, had 23.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 38 games (20 starts). Known for his high motor, Paye’s sack numbers in college shows that there is some diversifying of his pass rush game that the Colts coaching staff (Robert Mathis?) will need to help develop. Paye even making it to the NFL is nothing short of a miracle. He was born into a refugee camp in the Republic of Guinea. His mother fled the war-torn country of Liberia and brought Paye and his older brother to Rhode Island in 1999.
2. Three-Down Presence
So much talk this offseason was on the Colts’ need to elevate their edge pass rush, and rightfully so. But with Justin Houston still on the open market, the void at defensive end extends to a needed body to play on run and pass downs, too. Paye, unlike some of the other top edge rushers in this class, appears to have the skillset to give the Colts such an option. While the Colts love to rotate bodies up front, they have also been searching for a long-term answer at defensive end, with a guy who isn’t relegated to only playing on rush or pass downs (a la Kemoko Turay). Paye moved around a bit on the Michigan defensive line, but should have a strong chance to be a Day 1 starter at defensive end in Indy.
3. Need Eventually Gets Attention
Edge rush has received a good amount of attention under Chris Ballard, but the misses there doesn’t mean the swinging needed to stop. The Colts needed to invest a premium resource at a postition that is so critical to their defense. Currently, the Colts have a very up in the air depth chart at DE. Isaac Rochell, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Tyquan Lewis have some starting history in the league, but aren’t the eye-popping third-down edge rushers that teams truly covet. Young rushers Kemoko Turay and Ben Bangou have yet to prove themselves. The Colts have now chosen at least one defensive lineman in each of the last 15 drafts.