Because most rookies don’t get enough credit, we’ll be highlighting some top performances by the NFL’s next generation.
Daron Payne, DT, Washington
One of a handful of picks that I got right in the SAFV mock draft this year. Daron Payne was a no-brainer out of Alabama for Washington to select at 13 th overall. The massive 6’3”, 319 lb. defensive tackle was brought in to shore up that Washington run defense, and it’s worked spectacularly. In 2017, Washington was the worst defensive unit in the league against the run, allowing 134.1 yards on the ground per game. Thus far this season, with the addition of Payne, Washington is a top-ten rushing unit, allowing just over 92 yards per contest. Payne was particularly effective in week five against the Saints, recording four tackles, including a sack, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Payne is playing a healthy seventy-plus percent of Washington’s defensive snaps and has shown the ability to move linemen away from their gaps with an aggressive first move. He actually trimmed down at Alabama and his sub five-second forty speed will allow him to get after the passer. As his technique improves, Payne could easily become a Pro Bowl caliber defensive player.
Check out previous rookie reports here.
Image Source: USA Today