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Former NFL Scout warns teams to Stay Away From Kwity Paye | Not a first-round talent?

Kwity Paye Michigan NFL Draft Former NFL Scout
Should NFL teams stay away from Kwity Paye? Daniel Kelly a former NFL scout warns teams to avoid taking him in round 1.

Scouting Report: DE Kwity Paye 6’4” 272 (Michigan)

40 time: 4.75

Film exposure: (2020) Minnesota, Penn State, Michigan State and Iowa. 

Thick squatty compact rigid defensive end with brute power and quickness but he has a whale of a time beating blocks. Very thick upper and lower frame. Thick thighs. Bulky and boxy looking. Longer looking arms. Physical specimen.Guy who is going to push the pocket aggressively and get more pressure on the quarterback than produce actual sacks. Paye only produced 11.5 sacks total in his four year college career at Michigan. He has brute physical power and ability to push the pocket. Has some mean and nasty to him. However, most of the game tied up in blocks. Tied up way too much for my liking. That is concerning to me. Best game versus Iowa. Paye looks the part, but he does not make enough high impact plays to be considered as a first round prospect. Has a little underachiever to him. Sometimes turns it on more than other times visibly on film. Michigan moved him around from left to right end and also lined him up inside on the interior of the defensive line as well. 

Paye consistently lines up in a four-point stance. Looks coiled and ready pre-snap. Shows good initial quickness off the ball. Best bet is if he can use his quickness and short-area burst of speed to either blow through the back door of the pocket clean or power his way through the inside gap to create pressure. Best when he can keep himself clear and clean of blocks. Paye is toast when he gets tied up and engaged against offensive linemen and he even has a hard time getting off tight end blocks one-on-one. Not explosive at the point of attack due to rigidity in his hips. Looks somewhat soft and bland in terms of pop or jolt. He does not rock anyone back. He is absolutely not a bull rusher. Got handled and tangled up with blockers too often. Active. Decent motor. He will push the pocket and he keeps coming. He just does not get there most of the time in these types of situations. Is at his best when he uses a combination of speed and strength to get into the pocket, but just does not do that often enough. Paye is very limited by rigidity and his lack of pass rush moves and pass rush polish. Raw. He either muscles his way into a gap or wins with speed or he does not win. Sometimes his perseverance pays off and he gets clean eventually and can burst into the pocket and chase the quarterback. Keeps coming. Once he is clean or is free in space shows great burst and close in the pocket. Able to close in on the quarterback in a hurry to create pressure. More of a pressure guy than a sack guy. Has average chase to sidelines and very average long range speed. 

Against the run really struggles to get untangled from blockers (stats in 2020, he produced 16 tackles/12 solo/ 4 assists. In 2019, in a full schedule he produced 50 tackles/26 solo/24 assists). Struggles to shed and get into position in time. Works at it and gives effort. Best when he can come off a block laterally and make a high impact wrapping strong tackle. He is just really limited due to lack of explosiveness and inability to disengage effectively enough from linemen. Struggles to disengage and shed blocks in time. More of an inside the box run defender when he is able to contribute. Caught him slow to react a couple times to the play flow. Limited contributor while run defending. Rigidity shows up in space when he misses.

With Paye there are little things here and there that are intriguing about him, but there is not enough there to consider him in the first round. No way. No how. Can create some pressure and push the pocket some. He is just not a high impact defensive end and if he struggled this much against blockers in college, it is only going to be that much more exasperated at the NFL level. If he has a hard time doing it against the University of Minnesota, Penn State and Michigan State, Iowa’s of the world, it only stands to reason he is going to have a whale of a time against a higher level of competition in the NFL. This is exactly the type of player a team will try to manufacture into something he is not and overvalue him. He will shine in a pro day situation and teams will over-inflate his value. Projects to a solid left defensive end in the NFL. He will never be a headliner and he never will be a Pro Bowl guy, but he will be a solid blue-collar lunch bucket 5-7 year starter who will shine here and there, but mostly disappear. The stats and the film do not lie about Paye. 

Where would I draft Kwity Paye?

Daniel Kelly’s Draft Board: He would not be on my board. He is not dynamic enough or high impact enough for what I want in a defensive linemen. Solid second to third round league grade. While he has natural ability, he does not put it altogether on film enough to warrant a team taking him in the first round. He is not productive enough. He does not make enough high impact plays. No question, he is a presence, but not enough of a play-maker.

Possibility of being a bust: 40% percent chance. I think he has enough upside to stick. 

If I were a GM, this is the question I need to be answered in my mind about Kwity Paye:

I need to know why he looks like he is giving more of an effort at times opposed to other times on film?

My Top 4 concerns about Paye:

  1. Rigidity in his movements
  2. Inability to shed and beat blocks 
  3. Lack of pass rush polish and moves. 
  4. Underachiever? 

How NFL offenses will beat him: By blocking him with either an offensive lineman or a tight end. Really struggles to get off blocks.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 


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