Da’Ron Payne has the chance to be a generational talent. He is everything you can ask for from a physical size perspective, and in spurts, there are moments where you see the perfect defensive tackle.
However, the frustration with Da’Ron Payne is dealing with the downs that come with his play. Getting inside his head, and understanding what Payne needs to work on, and how he can consistently be the dominant player that he has been seen so much will be needed in the NFL. Where does the consistency need to come from? What are the ups and downs of Da’Ron Payne?
Before getting into what he needs to bring, what he brings is enticing enough for him to fall into the higher end of the draft. Payne is a freak of nature in the height room and compared to other human beings in size, and he brings that to the football field.
Payne can get upfield in a hurry. His combination of size, strength, and burst can be too overwhelming for any offensive linemen on any given play.
Watch the play below. Notice how much quicker off of the ball he is than any other player in those trenches. He is exploding into the backfield and getting in with ease.
Below, the center is asked to step over and seal Payne to the outside after his snap so that the guard can pull. Payne gives the center no chance and is well ahead of him by the time he gets over. Any push he gives to Payne is now giving him momentum towards the quarterback.
Da’Ron Payne is an upfield penetrator who can move pockets, and get into the backfield to shut down the run.
Double teams cannot slow down Payne when he gets a full head of steam.
The question is how consistently will he bring these drive-changing plays? Some of his tape goes full games without real impact. A lot of his issues come down to pad level. He has the burst, but at times tends to shoot up too high, out of his stance. He blows all of his momentum and leverage and gives up all of the energy he created to drive through the line.
Payne pops up out of his stance on the play below. His swipe hardly moves the needle as he is standing up with legs straight.
Again, weaker competition is able to get an easy push on Payne when he pops up too high out of stance.
The guard is able to dictate Payne’s route to the quarterback. He leads him right into the center. Watch how Payne consistently has his head and shoulders over both linemen.
Payne is capable of being pushed down the field and bullied without leverage.
And double teams become an area where he gives up ground rather than holds his own or rips upfield.
Da’Ron Payne is an interesting case of betting on upside versus looking at consistent production. The projection of what Da’Ron Payne can make him an easy first round. The tape and ability of what he has done make that a question of value.
On one hand, Nick Saban and his coaching staff could not get the inconsistencies out of his game. However, that also can do with him spending time on the bench watching elite defensive lineman ahead of him. The speed of the game makes things more reactionary. Will the consistent reps help his game, or is he a rotational piece used for certain purposes? Those are the questions surrounding Da’Ron Payne as he heads into the NFL draft.
– Parker Hurley is Pittsburgh Steelers team manager of Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Lik