Film Room delves into the early days of Rookie Pass Rusher

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The Indianapolis Colts have hope for rookie rusher Kwity Paye, a player they selected with the 21st pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. While some fanbase members expected it to be. For Paye to step in immediately and produce, it will take some time for the raw rusher to gain a foothold.

The game he had on Sunday was one of the toughest draws a rookie passing thrower could get in his debut. Paye faced Seattle Seahawks left tackle (and 12-year veteran) Duane Brown. Brown, 36, is five times Pro Bowler and three times All-Pro on left tackle.

Brown is one of the top left tackles in the NFL and he definitely won last Sunday’s game. How has Paye performed overall? Let’s dive into the movie and find out.

Difficult beginnings

Despite being on the wrong end of the 30, Brown is an extremely gifted left tackle. He may be the best in the league at combating power moves, and he can still move around in jump sets with ease.

Paye only has a few moves in his repertoire right now and that predictability is something a veteran like Brown can dominate against. Paye ended the game with just two rushes on 21 quick passes.

For the most part, this should be a great learning experience for Paye. He needs to develop quick blocks to fight tackles when they place him quickly, and vary his rushes more to beat experienced tackles. If he’s constantly trying to upshift or dip / rip, veteran tackles are going to read him and prepare accordingly.

It’s a tough first game, and I hope Paye watches the movie up close and learns from it.

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There were flashes

While this is mostly an ineffective play for Paye, he has had a few rushes where he has shown his elite ability that the Colts hope to develop. When he timed the snap correctly, his mix of power and speed even had a tackle like Brown’s.

Her best rush came in the clip below. Paye is the first player to come out of the line of scrimmage, and he uses that big jump to get out of Brown. Once Paye gets to the corner, he quickly converts speed to power as he dives over the edge. He’s turning the corner when Russell Wilson throws the pass over. Another split second and Paye may have had a sack.

That’s all I needed to see last weekend so I wouldn’t worry about Paye in the future. If a rookie flashes against a top NFL tackle, then you’ll be fine.

Excellent in Run Defense

While Paye was drafted for his ability to rush the passer, his features along with the top-flight restlessness proved to be a major asset in Sunday’s running game. The Colts defense as a whole struggled to stop the race, but Paye was really strong in it.

In this first clip, Paye plants the rear of the run from the outer zone. The Seahawks try to cut it with a tight end on a block of crackback, but Paye is able to pull it through easily. He pushes his way through the tight end and battles the running back for a short win on the play.

On the other end of the spectrum, when it comes to running defense, Paye has put a huge advantage on runs on his side. Linebackers struggled to fill in and tackle, but Paye did his job on most running games.

His best rep came on this sweep from the outer area to his side. He lifts Brown at the point of attack and keeps the veteran tackle out of his body with his arms outstretched. When the ball carrier gets inside, Paye quickly disengages and tackles for a loss.

Final thoughts

It might not have been the debut everyone had hoped for (statistically) for Kwity Paye, but I was very impressed with the young defensive end. He fought the entire game against a prominent left tackle, flashed as a passer and was robust as a run defender.

The next step is to turn those flashes into production. As the year progresses, I expect Paye to learn from those tough tests early in the season and start producing. He’s having another tough clash with veteran Andrew Whitworth this week, so it will be important to see if he can perform better against another top left tackle.


Follow Zach on Twitter @ ZachHicks2.

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