The Wolverine

February 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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28 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2021 T he 2021 NFL Draft isn't set to take place until April 29-May 1, but mock draft projections released in January unanimously had Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye as a future first-round pick. Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News, in particular, was very high on Paye, projecting the Providence, R.I., na- tive to come off the board at No. 9 to the Denver Broncos in his Jan. 19 mock draft. "The Broncos have an uncertain future with [linebacker] Von Miller and need to pair another young impact player with [linebacker] Bradley Chubb, who can get after the quarterback and dominate physically and athletically against offensive tackles," Iyer wrote. "Paye is a freak of nature and has quickly shot up draft boards. It's hard not to think about a combination of [Pro Bowl defensive end] Ziggy Ansah and [for- mer All-Pro outside linebacker] Jason Pierre-Paul in that sense." Paye wasn't the only Wolverine Iyer expected to be chosen in the first round, though. The analyst also pegged redshirt sophomore right tackle Jalen Mayfield to come off the board 12 spots later to the Indianapo- lis Colts at No. 21 overall. "The Colts must think about a replacement for 32-year-old retiree Anthony Castonzo first," Iyer noted. "Mayfield has stood out on film with his size, length and strength and can develop into a smooth blocker a la the Broncos' Garett Bolles." Michael Renner of Pro Football Fo- cus (PFF), meanwhile, rated the top 100 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft Jan. 12, and though not specifically picking where each player would land, he was nevertheless nearly as high on Paye as Iyer was. The PFF expert listed the senior as the No. 11 overall player in the draft and the best prospect on the defen- sive side of the ball. "Paye has everything you could want physically to be an every-down problem in the NFL," Renner wrote. "While he never put it all together at Michigan, he's shown he can take to coaching and has made strides every single year." Renner was significantly lower on Mayfield than Iyer was, though, peg- ging the Grand Rapids, Mich., na- tive as the No. 65 overall prospect in the draft. Redshirt sophomore line- backer Cameron McGrone wasn't far behind, checking in at No. 86. CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson had Paye coming off the board a bit lower than the aforementioned experts in his Jan. 19 mock draft, projecting the 6-4, 272-pounder to hear his name called by the Las Vegas Raiders with the No. 17 pick. "The Raiders' defense is a mess and they have to get better at getting after the QB," Wilson wrote. "Paye, meanwhile, is an athletic marvel who showed vast improvement from the '19 to '20 seasons." Wilson did not have Mayfield go- ing in the first round. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Net- work had a significant surprise when he released his list of the draft's 100 best players Jan. 18, tabbing Mayfield higher than Paye. The analyst listed the former as the No. 25 player in the draft and the latter at No. 26. Three other former Wolverines made his top 100 chart as well, with cornerback Ambry Thomas checking in at No. 66, wideout Nico Collins at No. 72 and McGrone at No. 94. Finally, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. re- leased his first mock draft Jan. 26, and had Paye going No. 21 overall to the Colts. He did not have Mayfield in the first round of his initial offer- ing, but did note he considered him at No. 30 overall to the Buffalo Bills. — Austin Fox JIM HARBAUGH REVEALS SIX GOALS FOR 2021, INCLUDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh gave a presentation at the annual Michigan High School Foot- ball Coaches Association clinic Jan. 15 MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Kwity Paye, Jalen Mayfield Viewed As Michigan's Two Best NFL Prospects Paye was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the No. 11 overall prospect — tops among defend- ers — for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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