Da’Ron Payne is the next to come off the assembly line at Alabama where first round picks are turned out every year and he should be a first round NFL Draft pick.
From Marcell Dareus to Jonathan Allen, Alabama has churned out great defensive line prospects since Nick Saban took over in Tuscaloosa. This year, it’s defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne who will be the latest Crimson Tide defensive lineman to hear his name called in the first round. He may have been overshadowed by some of his teammates, but he’s going to be a stud in the NFL.
If you didn’t watch much of Alabama over the last three years and need to know what your favorite NFL team is getting in this player, you can find my breakdown of his strengths and weaknesses below his highlight tape below.
Da’Ron Payne, defensive tackle, Alabama
One of my favorite prospects in the entire draft. Payne was lost in the shuffle at Alabama where he was teammates with several other top draft picks and didn’t have the box score stats to open eyes.
But Payne opened eyes during the College Football Playoff where he showed off his strength to push centers and guards into the backfield, his speed to rush the passer, and even catching a TD vs. Clemson.
The 6-2, 311-pound Payne comes with some risk. He only had three career sacks and five tackles for loss over three years at Alabama. But he is well-coached and a master technician who grew into being a team leader at Alabama.
His best football is ahead of him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpasses his college totals halfway through his rookie season. He has that type of skills and upside.
Bottom line, Payne is a devastating run-stuffer with the speed and arsenal of moves to rush the passer and collapse the pocket from the interior of the line. If he reaches his ceiling, Payne can be the best Alabama defensive lineman Saban has coached and be perennial Pro Bowler.
Draft Projection: Likely to be drafted in the top 15-25, but I think he’s a top 10 talent