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It is nearly NFL Draft week, with the event set to begin next Thursday (April 29) and run through May 1. The Michigan Wolverines’ football program is heavily expected to have a minimum of five players chosen, with defensive end Kwity Paye generally viewed as the club’s top selection.

Opinions have varied on him though, with some projecting him to come off the board as high as the top 15, while others think he’ll slip more toward late in the first round.

TheAthletic.com’s Dane Brugler appeared on Lindsay Rhodes’ “NFL Rhodes Show” podcast yesterday afternoon to discuss a wide variety of topics surrounding this year’s draft, and unsurprisingly touched on Paye and the crop of edge rushers as a whole.

Brugler was asked if Paye is the “safest” pick amongst this year’s edge rushers, and admitted there’s one defensive end he likes slightly better than Paye — Georgia redshirt sophomore Azeez Ojulari.

The analyst quickly praised Paye as well though, noting “you know what you’re getting if you select him.”

“He didn’t have a ton of production, but I think part of that is the way Michigan used him,” Brugler explained. “He’s 6-2 and a half, 260, and is equally effective against the run and the pass.

“He might be the answer [for someone looking for a safe edge rusher], in terms of a high floor player.”

National analysts — like Brugler — are putting the finishing touches on their final mock drafts prior to next week’s annual event, and we have rounded up where Paye is projected to land in several of the most recent prognostications.

The projections below are from several of the most notable outlets in the sports industry, and have all been released since April 19:

• No. 11 to the New York Giants — NFL.com’s Chad Reuter (April 23)

“Paye dropped to 261 pounds for his pro day, allowing general manager Dave Gettleman to envision the former Wolverine standing up in the Giants’ defense. His agility and strength are perfect for winning and setting the edge. “

• No. 18 to the Miami Dolphins — Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo (April 19)

“The Dolphins have done a fine job building their roster over the last few years, but they can still use some juice off the edge. Paye has improved every year at Michigan, and with a sub-6.5 three-cone under his belt, he provides a strong combination of production and athleticism.

“Paye recorded an 87.1 pass-rush grade last season, but there’s still room to improve from a technique standpoint, and that’s the most intriguing part of his game and a worthwhile risk for the Dolphins with their second first-round selection.”

• No. 22 to the Tennessee Titans — CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin (April 23)

“Tennessee needs pass rush more than almost any team in the league needs anything at the moment. Paye is an elite athlete with enormous potential coming off the edge.”

• No. 26 to the Cleveland Browns — ESPN’s Todd McShay (April 20)

“It’s a mini slide for Paye, my top-ranked edge rusher, but Cleveland isn’t complaining. The Browns still need a high-end pass-rusher opposite [defensive end] Myles Garrett, even after the [defensive end] Jadeveon Clowney and [defensive end] Takkarist McKinley signings.”

• No. 27 to the Baltimore Ravens — Pro Football Network’s James Fragoza (April 23)

“The Ravens are sprinting their draft card up as the best edge rusher falls to No. 27 in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft. Kwity Paye will fill the shoes left by [defensive end] Matthew Judon and [defensive end] Yannick Ngakoue admirably.

“Baltimore knows a thing or two about manufacturing edge talent, making this the No. 1 landing spot for any pass rushers in the draft, let alone the best of the bunch.”

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