No. 1: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
While Miami’s Gregory Rousseau looked like a lock to be the first pass rusher off of the board in 2020, his decision to opt out of the season helped several other players enter the EDGE1 conversation, Paye chief among them. The former Wolverine is fresh off another quality season in maize and blue.
Paye only played in four games, but he showed that his ability to bend the edge and stop running backs dead in their tracks will translate to the NFL. With Belichick clearly a fan of Michigan’s defense, as evidenced by the Uche and Chase Winovich picks, he could look to give his pass rush a major boost by adding Paye in the first round.
Kwity Paye is a perfect Belichick defensive end. Just look at the past two Patriots drafts.
Paye might be at his best as a 5-technique with his hand in the dirt, but he has lined up as a 1-tech or 3-tech linemen in passing downs. That versatility, and success in that role, is uncommon for a player in college, and that could get the ever-crafty Belichick even more interested in him.
Paye might require a trade-up, as several teams that are in front of Belichick could end up using their first-round pick to make him a cornerstone of their defense. If Belichick believes a strong defense will carry whoever is under center to the postseason, he will have to consider trading for Paye.