Some Indianapolis Colts fans are going to doubt the team’s selection of Kwity Paye at No. 21 overall in the most recent draft until they see him produce in the regular season, but others have already come around on the decision.
At first, this was largely met with skepticism, especially given the Colts’ need to fill a massive void at left tackle following the retirement of Anthony Castonzo. Instead, general manager Chris Ballard drafted two pass rushers with his first two picks, and the first one (Paye) had only 11.5 sacks in 28 career college games, and wasn’t particularly good during the shortened 2020 campaign.
But since joining Indy, Paye has continued to turn heads, and was even graded as the highest performing rookie during the preseason by Pro Football Focus. Take what you will from that information, but it’s certainly not bad.
And now, we have defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus continuing to gush about the former Michigan Wolverine, presumably excited to unleash him Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Is Kwity Paye going to be a breakout rookie for the Indianapolis Colts?
"“He’s so mature as a competitor, I think that having the game experience in preseason will help him and I thin he’ll be right in the right spot where he needs to be for Game 1. And he’ll feel that energy in Lucas Oil and build on from that. He should be excited and have a positive energy about him with the rest of the defense going into that first game.”"
And here’s more from defensive line coach Brian Baker:
"“You can see him processing that information as it’s going in. And he’s able to give it back to you — Kwity, what are they doing, what are you doing, that kind of thing, what happened on that snap. That is really unique. I’ve coached some experienced guys that could not — they don’t have a clue what just happened. And this kid knows right away as a rookie.”"
Ballard really wasn’t lying when he said he liked Paye’s motor and football IQ — two paramount characteristics needed to succeed in Eberflus’ defense. And if we know anything about Michigan pass rushers in recent years, it’s that they’re ready to make an impact. Look at Patriots defenders Chase Winovich and Josh Uche, both of whom have showed promise in limited snaps and figure to take on bigger roles this year after sliding in the draft.
Paye was never going to slide, though. His size (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) and speed (4.57 40-yard dash time) were first-round-caliber and he’s already proving that in the early going of his tenure with the Colts.
He won’t have an easy task on Sunday against Duane Brown and Russell Wilson, but it’s certainly a challenge he’s up for, and if he can make any sort of impact, the Colts will be that much closer to potentially discovering the future of their pass rush.