2020 Season Countdown: #6 Kwity Paye

2020 Season Countdown: #6 Kwity Paye

October 17, 2020
Kwity Paye (image via Freep)

Name: Kwity Paye
277 lbs.
High school: 
Providence (RI) Bishop Hendricken
Defensive end
Jersey number: 
Last year: 
I ranked Paye #17 and said he would be the starting weakside end with 45 tackles and 5 sacks (LINK). He made 54 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery.
TTB Rating:

Michigan had a few breakout players on defense in 2019, and Paye might have been the biggest. He went from being a rotational player in 2018 to getting enough hype following last season to be bandied about as a potential 1st round draft pick. He also was named the #1 “freak” on Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks List.” This all came on the heels of a relatively modest 12.5-TFL, 6.5-sack season. His real coming out part seemed to take place against Iowa, when he made 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 2 quarterback hurries against a respected Hawkeyes offensive line.

This feels like a weird thing to say after all that hype, but here it is, anyway:

Kwity Paye makes me wonder about the effectiveness of Shaun Nua’s coaching.

Paye was a project coming out of high school in 2017, when he was a part-time running back in Rhode Island. So the fact that he has reached these heights is impressive in itself. But when you watched Paye in 2019, he didn’t really do anything special. He’s fairly quick. And he’s fairly strong. And he’s got a good motor. But when it comes to technique or defeating blocks? Nah. He doesn’t have any pass rush moves. He just kind of keeps going and going until he’s in the lap of the quarterback.

If Paye is going to capitalize on the first round hype, I think he has to add some noticeable technique to his arsenal. If he doesn’t, I think that will be an indictment of Nua, who will have had two seasons with a pretty talented guy with nothing much to show for it. For some reason I don’t see Paye taking a giant step forward, but he should still be pretty good. And the fact is that behind starting ends Paye and Aidan Hutchinson, there isn’t much. The most proven guy is Luiji Vilain, who has suffered through injury but hasn’t shown much upside when he actually got on the field. Paye has the versatility to play inside and outside, and he would be a big loss if injured.

Will he be a first round pick in 2021? My gut says no, but he should have a solid season for the Wolverines.

Prediction: Starting weakside end

Hit the jump for some 2019 highlights.


  1. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Oct 17, 2020 at 12:14 PM

    I don’t see a breakout sack season coming unless Hinton makes a leap. Having impactful DTs makes a huge difference for DE stat production.

    I’m skeptical of Nua too. Too early to draw conclusions but the DT situation last year was not at all encouraging. I have to think Jeter and Dwumfour would have been further along with Mattison around.

  2. Comments: 30
    Joined: 9/3/2015
    Oct 17, 2020 at 10:08 PM

    I’m a big fan of Kwity Paye, and you can tell he puts in work, but first round definitely seems like a stretch. That said, I agree with Lanknows that if we get even decent DT play, he’ll have an excellent year. If the DTs hold up, and the other team has to double either him or Aidan Hutchinson — and thus leave the other one singled up with a TE — I like those odds. Those two guys made Iowa’s two first-rounder OTs look pretty pedestrian last year.

  3. Comments: 71
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Oct 17, 2020 at 10:17 PM

    Would the lack of quality DT play next to him affect what moves he uses for pass rush on the field? If Michigan can’t count on the DTs to maintain their assignments and keep contain would the coaches require Paye to stay more disciplined and just keep pushing forward?

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 18, 2020 at 12:38 PM

      I don’t think so. There are still pass rush moves you can use while maintaining C-gap responsibility and outside contain. It doesn’t have to be a bull rush every time. You can use a chop, push-pull, dip-and-rip, etc.

      • Comments: 71
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Oct 18, 2020 at 2:21 PM

        Thanks, wasn’t sure how much the DT play impacts DEs. Like all the complaints about Uche not playing every snap last year when there were clearly personnel adjustments due to the lack of confidence in the DTs. For those without coaching backgrounds it can be hard to tell what is reality vs. what is trying to excuse poor coaching/play.

        • Comments: 3845
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Oct 18, 2020 at 3:48 PM

          I do think the poor DT play affected the ends, just not necessarily in that way. Maurice Hurst, Jr. was a great asset for the team, but also for the edge guys who could wait in contain mode for players to be flushed toward them.

    • Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Oct 18, 2020 at 5:16 PM

      Even an untrained eye can see some of this when a blocking RB immediately shuffles in the direction of a Bosa or Epenesa rather than looking at the more direct threat in front of him. The players know where the threat is (or isn’t).

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