Hold the phone. Stop the presses. The pick is in. The Philadelphia Eagles are about to disappoint fans once again by reaching for someone in the first round of the NFL draft.
Yes, that opening statement was written with a huge dose of sarcasm. But, wherever there is smoke there is usually fire — and a new inferno lists Michigan’s Kwity Paye as the likely selection at pick No. 12. According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, the Eagles “love” the 6-foot-3, 261-pounder who the team views as a Brandon Graham clone.
I’m told the team loves Kwity Paye, the edge rusher from Michigan, and view him as a clone to another former Wolverine — Brandon Graham — the Eagles’ former first-round pick. Could they take him with the 12th overall selection? I’d say right now, it’s possible.
NEVER FORGET Kwity Paye three-cone drill
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 26, 2021
Paye has been written about in this space before. He’s one of the best pass rushers in this year’s draft after recording six sacks and 50 tackles (12.5 for loss) in 12 games in 2019. He decided not to opt-out due to COVID-19 concerns in 2020, then suffered a groin injury. Paye played in four games last season and finished with two sacks, five quarterback hurries and 16 tackles (four for loss).
“When you look at Kwity Paye, the pass-rush potential, he has flashed that,” ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper told reporters in early March. “Love the intensity he plays with. He’s a guy who can play in a variety of ways with his hand on the ground, on his feet.”
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NFL Scout Calls Paye ‘Absolute Freak’
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah once worked for the Eagles as a college scout and now he serves as a well-respected and trusted national draft analyst. He has gone on record in recent months calling Paye an “absolute freak” who has been linked heavily to the New York Giants at pick No. 11. If he falls to Philly at No. 12, watch out.
“When I put on the tape, Kwity Paye is different,” said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, via CBS Sports. “He has suddenness and twitchiness that some of these other guys don’t have. And I know his stats weren’t exceptional, but he is constantly disrupting.”
Named after his grandfather who couldn’t escape Civil War.
Named by his mother who did — twice.
— NFL (@NFL) April 27, 2021
Paye put on a show at his Michigan pro day where he ran the 40-yard dash in a blistering 4.52 seconds while benching 225 pounds 36 times. He also posted a 35.5-inch vertical jump and 9-foot-10 inch broad jump. He has been compared to former Minnesota Vikings edge rusher Everson Griffen.
Weak Defensive Line Class This Year
This year’s draft class seems to be devoid of big names on the defensive line. Paye is arguably the best one on the board, along with Jaelen Phillips (Miami), Gregory Rousseau (Miami), Azeez Ojulari (Georgia), Carlos Basham Jr. (Wake Forest), Jayson Oweh (Penn State). The Eagles could have their choice out of the bunch if they want an edge rusher at pick No. 12.
Some numbers starting to come out from Michigan’s pro day: Hearing 4.38 for Ambry Thomas in the 40, mid-4.4 range for Nico Collins and Chris Evans, 4.54 with 36 bench press reps for Kwity Paye. Expecting Michigan to post some official results later today.
— Austin Meek (@byAustinMeek) March 26, 2021
Question is, do they want to go in that direction? Eagles vice-president of player personnel Andy Weidl wouldn’t reveal the team’s plan but he didn’t rule out a defensive end in the first round.
“They’ll be there, and we’ve vetted these guys,” Weidl said. “We know these guys, spent a lot of time with them, Coach [Jeremiah] Washburn, Coach [Tracy] Rocker have done an unbelievable job interviewing them and evaluating them, and we’ve had great discussions. Time will tell with this class what it is, and we’ll see where the players are and what they turn into.”