Kwity Paye has been rising up the NFL Draft charts for a while now, with many believing he’ll be a first-round pick. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper has him going as high as 11th overall to the New York Giants, and despite playing only four games last year, the 6-4, 272-pounder did enough to improve his stock.
He didn’t have to partake in Michigan’s Pro Day Friday, probably, to improve it even more, but he said he would. He also made a bold prediction.
“I feel like it’s going to solidify what they already think of me,” Paye said. “Being able to go there and put up the numbers they think I’m going to put up will just make them confirm about choosing me.”
He was right. He ran a 4.54 40, per reports, and would have dominated the shuttle had his right quad not tightened up. He sat it out, but he’s done enough over the last four years to put himself in great position for the April draft, including get to the passer:
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Paye’s NFL dream started in sixth grade, and now it’s coming to fruition. A big part of it was being able to repay his mother for all she’d done for him.
“It feels amazing, being able to take care of her,” Paye said. “That’s the thing I wanted do ever since I was young. Seeing how hard she worked — how much she struggled — to get us through.
“She’s just relaxing now and just chilling. It just feels good to have her be with my younger brothers and raise them. At times, when I was younger, she wasn’t really around — she just had to work.”
That won’t be the case much longer. He’s on the verge of signing a huge rookie contract.
“When I start thinking about it, my heart starts to beat faster,” Paye said. “When I was in middle school, I always dreamed like, ‘Man, I hope I get the chance to go play in the NFL.’ Even though those chances were really small coming from Rhode Island … you don’t see anybody go or get drafted first round or playing college football at a high level.
“For me, it was all a dream … up until now.”
He credits former Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown for discovering him first at a Boston College camp, deciding to following him to Ann Arbor. Michigan prepared him well, he said, by using him in different schemes and exposing him to a lot of what he’ll see at the next level.
But he credits his mother for a lot of who he is. He keeps a number of her sayings in his bulky wallet, including ‘Nothing worth having comes easy,’ ‘Nothing will get in the way of me achieving my dreams, and ’God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldier.’
He also carries a list of those he’s living and working for, including his family, and things he’s grateful for.
“Those kind of keep me grounded and keep me humble and just remind me of where I came from, because especially now in life where I’m at, there are going to be a lot of people that are going to try to boost my head up and kind of make me forget who I am and where I come from,” he said. ‘Those kind of keep me true to who I am.”
Who he is as a person is one of the more down-to-earth people we’ve covered in our years reporting on the Wolverines. As a player he’s simply “different’ in watching him on tape, ESPN’s Todd McShay said on a recent podcast.
“He has suddenness and twitchiness that some of these other guys don’t have,” he said. “And I know his stats weren’t exceptional, but he is constantly disrupting. The other thing I love about him, you got to have this as a defensive end or pass-rusher, the motor.
“He flies around the field; he plays sideline to sideline. He will chase you down from behind, and he’s got explosive workout numbers, as well. So, I don’t think it’s that big of a reach [at 11]. I think at some point, after 10, we’re going to see the defensive ends, the edge-rushers start to come off the board.”
Paye will be among them, and he can’t wait to get started. But he’ll always be grateful to have gotten the opportunity, and part of his heart will remain in Ann Arbor.