The Michigan Wolverines program is known for churning lots of top tier offensive linemen, wide receivers, defensive backs and quarterbacks in recent decades, but defensive end hasn’t always been the strongest position.
As far as 2021 NFL Draft prospects go, the Wolverines are sending one of the top defensive ends in the draft to the league this time around, however, in Rhode Island native Kwity Paye.
Paye is not only a physical specimen with a background in track, but he also has been highly impactful and a great leader on the football field for the Wolverines.
And at Michigan’s Pro Day inside Glick Fieldhouse on Friday, Paye also showed perhaps the biggest reason why he will likely be selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at the end of April: he has the sheer physical talent, speed and strength to become a dominant defensive end at the next level as he continues to refine his skills.
Paye Turns Heads with 36 Reps, 40-Yard Dash at Michigan Pro Day
According to a report from The Detroit News, Paye was a physical marvel at the pre-draft workout for Michigan players, showing off his explosiveness and other skills in front of NFL scouts from the league’s top teams.
Paye, who is 6-foot-4 and 261 pounds, ran a 4.52 40-yard dash in Ann Arbor, while also turning in a 35.5 inch vertical leap.
It’s the caliber of raw speed that made him a fan favorite for the Wolverines, as Paye notched two sacks and 16 tackles during an abbreviated four-game 2020 season that sadly ended in an ankle injury and surgery in November.
Paye and the Wolverines fell far short of expectations in 2020 after an awe-inspiring opening game beatdown of Minnesota on the road, but Paye lived up to the hype in the pass rushing department, as the advanced stats bear out.
Highest pass-rush win % in the Big Ten last season
1. Kwity Paye, Michigan – 25.8% pic.twitter.com/gxHj5DN3L4
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 26, 2021
Fully recovered and ready for the spotlight, Paye’s most impressive Pro Day performance came in the weight room, where he recorded 36 reps, seven more than any other Wolverines’ player (fullback and fellow fan favorite Ben Mason was second with 29 according to The Wolverine).
Watch his performance below:
.@UMichFootball DE Kwity Paye put up 36 reps on the bench 💪
— NFL (@NFL) March 26, 2021
The Pittsburgh Steelers are among the teams that have met with the former Michigan star thus far, and he would be an excellent fit alongside former Big Ten sack master T.J. Watt, wreaking havoc on the edges as the “Steel Curtain” has been known to do over the years.
No surprise Kwity Paye ran this.
He anchored a State Championship winning 4×100 team back in High School. Athletic ability has always been one of his strong suits.
Good day so far for him. Steelers met with Paye prior to today’s Pro Day. https://t.co/JkxqE5y0rN
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) March 26, 2021
Calling him “fun to watch” with a “phenomenal” collection of skills, the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah compared Paye to another late blooming Michigan great at the defensive end position who has gone on to have a stellar NFL career: Frank Clark.
Interesting comps for Kwity Paye pic.twitter.com/0qGZGQ2Ux3
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 26, 2021
Perhaps the most impressive part of Paye’s day is that he wasn’t even able to run what is said to be his best drill: the shuttle drill, which allows him to show off his frighteningly good short-range burst.
While Paye is said to be a bit of a risk in the middle of the first round, it goes without saying that he will be contributor, and possibly even a star some day, at the next level on sheer physical talent, work ethic, and presence alone.
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