A Look At 2018 Draft Prospect Da’Ron Payne As A Potential First Round Pick For The Detroit Lions.
Payne Brings The Pain With Top Tier Strength
Outside of Vita Vea, Payne is currently the best interior lineman in the 2018 class. Fellow rookie Mo Hurst has the burst, but looks like he may not possess the functional strength to consistently be effective at the next level. Taven Bryan definitely has the functional strength, but lacks the technical foundation to be ahead of either Vea or Payne at this point. Payne’s strength and hand usage have him looking like one of the best lineman in the class.
Typically players with his level of strength play the 1′ role because of their ability to produce against double teams. However, Payne has produced very well at both the 1′ and lined up in the 3′ role as well. This strength has helped the defensive tackle blow up the run during his time at Alabama.
In this play against Auburn, you see Payne start a little high and loses a little ground immediately. But he resets and quickly sheds the offensive lineman. He breaks down well, making the sure tackle against the run as well as driving the running back backwards. Payne uses his strength and displays really heavy hands often against the run. While he needs to work on firing low out of his stance, he is hard to control. He has long and very strong arms, which he leverages well with.
Payne’s Athleticism And Swim Move On Display Against The Pass
Payne has a great feel for this play action roll-out against Arkansas. Playing the 1′, he gets a great burst off the line and hits the Razorbacks’ left guard with a very quick club move to free himself of the blocker. He continues to climb the pocket until he finds and takes down the opposing quarterback for the sack.
However, while his size (6’2, 318 lbs) might indicate he may be primarily a 1′, but some of his most explosive plays were from the 3′ position where his athleticism can take over in one-on-one matchups.
These last two plays showcase how devastating Payne’s swim move can be. In the top play you see how much strength he is able to generate. Even with a swim move that is more reliant on finesse, his follow-through finish moves the lineman a yard forward and extremely off-balance. Payne bursts and in just 3 steps reach the quarterback for the hit.
In the bottom play, Payne lines up more towards the interior, but the line shifts to the left. This puts him in a one-on-one matchups against the opposing right guard. Again, he hits the opposing lineman with quick swim move, shedding the block almost instantly. This frees Payne up to blow up the pass play before it even began.
Payne’s Fit In Detroit
Well some of that is up in the air with new head coach Matt Patricia’s scheme yet to be known. However, Payne has the functional strength and quickness to play nearly any spot on the line, primarily playing either interior spot. While there is some concern with Alabama players being too “coached up”, limiting their ceiling compared to non-Alabama draft prospects. There is less of a concern with that when it comes to their defensive lineman.
Like many defensive lineman playing under Saban, he does not have an overly developed pass rushing skill set. That is because they are not often required to in their scheme. There is some room for optimism with Payne’s swim move being at such a high level already, with his physical tools. If he can further expand his pass rushing ability, develop counters, and keep his pad level low, Payne has the ability to be one of the best players at his position in the next couple of years.
While his specific fit in Detroit might be still up in the air, what Patricia has been known for is utilizing players’ strengths and hiding their weakness, especially on the defensive line. Someone with Payne’s strength, athletic ability, and hand usage could be a special player with Patricia at the helm.