INDIANAPOLIS – When people are saying a Colts draft pick in 2021 reminds them of DeForest Buckner, it’s usually been Dayo Odeyingbo.
It’s the body types of the 6-7, 295-pound Buckner and the 6-6, 276-pound Odeyingbo that have Chris Ballard and many members of the Colts comparing the two defensive linemen.
But Darius Leonard has another name he wants to throw in the Buckner-category.
That’s Kwity Paye, who stands 6-2 and weighs 261 pounds, but is in that conversation for Leonard due to his makeup.
“Watching (Paye) play, he’s everything that we need,” Leonard says. “That motor. That meanness. That toughness. He’s a very humble guy.
“I like to refer to him as a DeForest Buckner. He’s quiet, but once he steps on the field, he has that switch and that drive to him.”
Hearing Leonard offer his description of Paye, it falls right in line with how the Colts viewed the first-round pick.
Paye became just the third first-round pick by Ballard in his 5 drafts.
Ballard is a firm believer that when you take a player with such a premium asset, you are sending a message to your locker room.
Who is he as a player?
Who is he as a person?
That was a big difference for the Colts in making Paye the selection at No. 21 overall.
When Paye got to Indy for rookie mini camp, it started to hit him all the work he could commit to his new life as a professional athlete.
“Now I wake up and be like, ‘Man, I have no school. I have nothing to do but focus on football.’ It’s fun now (laughing),” Paye says.
“I feel like I always took pride in what I did on the football field. Now I just get to be a better version of myself because I have more time in the day to really hone in on my craft.”
Paye has a good chance to be the Day 1 starter for the Colts at right defensive end.
His ability to offer a presence on early downs, while needing to add to his pass rushing repertoire, should give the Colts something they can rely on this September.
One thing that is of no concern to the Colts is how Paye carries himself.
The standard is high on the Indy defense of what a player must give the unit in terms of effort and pursuit.
Leonard isn’t worried.
“You see (Paye’s) story?” Leonard asks. “His story is very, very strong. He wants to provide. He wants to prove everybody wrong. Those are the type of guys you need. You don’t want the guy who comes in and says, ‘Ok, I made it. They want to be in the public eye.’ You just want guys who want to be a dog.
“When it’s the 4th quarter and we need a takeaway or it’s time to get off the field, it’s ‘I’m going to make a play.’”