Dangerous speed to run the arc and get around the corner
Speed-to-power rush ability
Can fire to the inside
Dangerous speed rusher at tackle in the sub package
Can dip underneath tackles
Nice ability to redirect
Will make a second effort
Agile; not stiff
Serious closing speed; rare for an end of his size
Has a burst to close on the quarterback
Functional strength, length
Ability to use hands and feet at same time
Good hand chop
Can fit a 4-3 or a 3-4
Not as productive as his skill set suggests he should be
Could use refinement of pass rushing moves
Not a lot of experience, only 19 starts in college
Bites on misdirection too often
Gets covered up some in the ground game
Summary: Michigan has not put it all together to become a championship-caliber team under Jim Harbaugh, but the program has produced a number of early-round defensive line prospects for the NFL. Taco Charlton and Rashan Gary were first-round picks with big-time skill sets, and Paye will keep the tradition going in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Paye first earned playing time in 2018, recording 28 tackles and two sacks. With Gary moving on to the NFL, Paye became a feature of the line in 2019, and he had a quality year, showing a lot of potential with his total of 50 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
The Wolverines looked like they had the makings of a dynamic edge rush tandem in 2020 with Paye and Aidan Hutchinson. The duo dominated Minnesota in the season opener, but soon after, Hutchinson went out for the year and nagging injuries cost Paye game action. Over his final season of college football, Paye totaled 16 tackles and two sacks.
As a pass rusher, Paye is a fast defender who fires into the backfield and closes on the quarterback in a hurry. Paye has the speed to fire off the ball and the ability to sink his hips to get underneath tackles as he runs the loop around the corner. For a player of Paye's size, his closing speed and ability to pursue scrambling quarterbacks are very impressive, and he has athleticism to redirect in space. Paye also possesses functional strength and can use his hands and feet at the same time to shed blocks. A hand chop if just one technique he uses to slap blockers away while moving around them. Thanks to his good combination of size and strength, Paye is a dangerous weapon when he moves inside to defensive tackle in the sub package.
Paye is a solid defender in the ground game as well. He has the strength to hold his gap and not get blown off the ball. Paye also gives a good effort and will pursue to the ball. He was covered up somewhat at times at Michigan, but that wasn't shocking given his lack of experience. Paye's strong frame and good size should help him end up as a good run defender in the NFL once he gains more experience and development from pro coaches.
For the next level, Paye could stand to continue to refine his pass-rushing moves and diversify how he attacks defensive tackles. Paye did not produce as much for the Wolverines as his skill set suggests he should have, so finishing more plays will be a point of improvement. Paye would be a great fit as a base end in a 4-3 defense and can move inside in the sub package as well. He also has sufficient athleticism and agility to stand up as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Paye is a consensus first-round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft. He could end up as top-20 selection.
Player Comparison: Justin Tuck. Paye's size, speed, and ability to rush from the inside in the sub package remind me of Tuck when he was in his prime years with the Giants.