Payne had 47 tackles, two sacks and a pass batted in 2017. He was superb, showcasing his freakish speed and athleticism. Payne was a tremendous run defender all year, shutting down his gap and keeping teams from running the ball on Alabama. When the Crimson Tide let him rush the passer, Payne demonstrated the ability to collapse the pocket and pressure the quarterback as well. He was superb in the playoff games against Clemson and Georgia.
Payne gets rave reviews all over the scouting community. In speaking with some general managers who have scouted Alabama, they think Payne and Minkah Fitzpatrick are legit studs for the NFL. Payne looks like the rare nose tackle who has top-25 potential.
Scouts who have looked ahead to the 2018 class have raved about Payne's potential. Coming from Alabama, it isn't a stretch that Payne could take on the lead role for the Crimson Tide with Jonathan Allen moving on to the NFL. Payne is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow. In 2016, Payne recorded 36 tackles with 3.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass broken up.
What the stats don't illustrate is that Payne can be physically dominant. He dominated his one-on-ones last year when he was lining up over guards. Payne causes disruption and makes his teammates better. Payne's contributions helped the sacks totals of Allen, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. Payne could be poised for a big junior year.
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