The 2020 NFL season was an odd one for the Minnesota Vikings. A team predicated on defense and running the ball turned into an aerial attack team with a defense that couldn’t stop a cold. They could look to change that by targeting a defensive lineman like Kwity Paye in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
For years, the thing holding the Vikings back was their inability to consistently perform on offense. That is why they signed Kirk Cousins to a monster deal and surrounded him with an incredible group of skill-position players. In 2020, they finally clicked on that side of the ball.
2020 first-round pick Justin Jefferson is a star in the making, filling the shoes left by Stefon Diggs, who was traded to the Buffalo Bills. Adam Thielen is still an upper-echelon wide receiver. Irv Smith Jr. is an up-and-coming tight end and Dalvin Cook cemented himself as one of the best running backs in the league.
Minnesota finally had an offense to match the defense’s production. Unfortunately for them, the defense fell apart in 2020.
The Vikings gave up 393.3 yards per game, tied for fifth-worst in the NFL. They gave up the sixth-most rushing yards per game at 134.4. The 29.7 points per game allowed was fourth-worst in the league as only one team all season, the Chicago Bears in Week 10, failed to score at least 20 points.
Given how things played out this past season, it would not be a surprise if the Vikings focus on defense this offseason. One player to keep an eye on during the 2021 NFL Draft is Kwity Paye, an EDGE defender from Michigan.
Paye is listed at 6-foot-4, weighing 275 pounds. In 28 games at Michigan, he compiled 97 total tackles, 23.5 of which went for a loss, to go along with 11.5 sacks. While not eye-popping stats, the NFL Draft is more about projecting player’s futures and Paye projects well.
He was a three-star recruit when he got to Michigan and now is a bonafide first-round prospect. He has a great blend of size and speed, something teams are always looking for when evaluating pass rushers. The former Wolverine has a developing move set that he mixes with his above-average explosiveness.
While Paye does not have the production of an upper echelon pass rusher, such as Khalil Mack or Myles Garrett, he has quality traits for a pass rusher. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark are two examples.
If the Vikings could add someone with the potential to produce as much as Lawrence or Clark as a pass rusher, fans would take that 10/10 times. Kwity Paye may never become a star, or a Defensive Player of the Year level player, but the organization would be excited to add someone that can help fix their pass rush right away.