It’s Super Bowl week in Tampa Bay, meaning Vikings fans get to watch yet another championship game played without their team being involved. Instead, the fan base has already dove into trade speculation, coaching changes and possible free agent additions.
Last April on KFAN.com we dove into several draft prospects the week leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft. This will be happening again in 2021, but I wanted to get a head start on a prospect that’s been tied to Minnesota in several mock drafts already.
Throughout the franchise's history the Vikings have been known for having a good defensive line. That changed in 2020 when the front four lost half of their starters before the season began. This led to the worst defensive season in Minnesota since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach and it’s likely that unit will improve drastically in 2021.
One way to instantly boost the defense would be using the 14th overall pick on a defensive lineman that can terrorize opponents' quarterbacks for many years to come. The Vikings haven’t used a first-round pick on a defensive end since taking Erasmus James in 2005, but they’ve also had a better defensive line than what was assembled in 2020.
Michigan Defensive End Kwity Paye would instantly be a boost to a Vikings’ defense that desperately needs it. His stats aren’t going to jump off the paper coming out of college, but neither did Danielle Hunter’s when he was coming out of LSU.
Paye would bring with him some great athleticism and good strength for the position. Although he only totaled two sacks in a shortened final season at Michigan, he recorded 29 pressures in that time frame.
Listen to Jordan Reid of TheDraftNetwork.com explain how he’s a guy that doesn’t jump off the stat sheet, but still had an extremely productive year in 2020.
We’ve seen Andre Patterson turn some mid-round guys into stars in the NFL, so it would be fun giving him a player as talented as Paye to work with.
Paye has shown signs that a lot of great pass rushers coming out of college also displayed. He is at his best when rushing from the edge, but he can also bump inside and could help the Vikings out with their hole at the three-technique position.
Here are a couple videos that show off his strength and athleticism.
There are plenty of different directions that the Vikings could go in the 2021 NFL Draft, but they will have to address the defensive line at some point. There’s a chance that Paye is already off the board by the 14th pick, but if available he’s a name Vikings fans should keep an eye on.
Stay tuned for more 2021 NFL Draft player profiles in the upcoming months on KFAN.com.