Data Scout Notes: 2018: 01-10-18 - Announced Early Entry into 2018 NFL Draft...2017: 2ndC...PBednarik...2016: NAC...2015: NAC
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Da'Ron Payne Alabama Crimson Tide Defensive Tackle 6-2, 308, 5.38, #94 Birmingham, Alabama Shades Valley High School
12/13/17 - 2017 ALL-SEC SECOND TEAM (COACHES): DL Da'Ron Payne, Alabama, was named to the second-team on defense. A bruising run-stopper along the Tide defensive front, Payne has totaled 45 tackles, 37 of which have come against the run, one sack, a team-high eight quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
In an era "heavy" with statistical analysis, few boast more impressive numbers than Payne, whose documented 545 pound bench press and 635 pound squat perhaps say all one needs to know about why he is considered among the top prospects in the 2018 NFL draft.
Payne's weight room proficiency dates back to high school when he became a YouTube sensation by lifting 460 pounds back in 2014. He has since "raised the bar" nearly 100 pounds despite dropping his own weight, earning the trust of Nick Saban and his staff who asked him to slim down in an effort to better defend the up-tempo offenses so prevalent in today's college and pro football landscape.
A strongman like Payne would start immediately for most teams but Payne had to wait his turn alongside all of future draft picks at Alabama. He played in all 15 games as a true freshman, even starting against run-heavy offenses for Arkansas, Florida and LSU but recorded just 13 tackles the season, including a half tackle for loss while also contributing a forced fumble and a pass defensed.
Payne emerged as a fulltime starter at nose guard as a sophomore in 2016, recording 36 tackles, including a career-high 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks, scoring the first touchdown of his college career by recovering a fumble and rumbling into the end zone against Mississippi. He emerged as one of the key cogs in Alabama's vaunted run defense as the year went on, helping limit Florida to zero net rushing yards and recording back to back standout games against Washington (four tackles) and Clemson (five tackles) in the playoffs.
Payne earned Second Team All-SEC honors in 2017, recording a career-high 45 tackles over the regular season - 37 of which came against the run. He also recorded a sack, registered a team-high eight QB hurries, broke up two passes, recovered a fumble and saw time as a fullback on offense during Alabama's goal-line packages.
As his weight room proficiency, fire hydrant frame and statistics suggest, Payne's value lies in his ability to clog up interior running lanes. There is no flamboyancy or frills to his game. Teams in search of a classic run-plugger, however, will certainly value Payne's grit, dedication and ability to make an immediate impact.
Payne signed with the Crimson Tide over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Florida State and a host of others as the top-rated prep prospect out of the football-rich state of Alabama. He weighed as much as 350 pounds as a senior in high school. Payne did not miss a game due to injury during his three years at Alabama and has no known medical issues.
STRENGTHS Payne possesses a body well-suited to winning the leverage battle, complete with broad shoulders and a thick lower half with tree trunks for legs. With his blocky frame and incredible weight-room strength, Payne is nearly immovable at the point of attack, utilizing quickness, balance and leg drive as well as upper body power to anchor. At times, he plays as if he is lifting weights on the bench press, knocking opponents back onto their heels with his initial punch and tossing them aside. For a big man, Payne shows impressive initial burst out of his stance as well as surprising quickness and effort in lateral and downfield pursuit. He possesses the strength in his hands to latch onto ball-carriers attempting to run past him, grabbing hold and slowing them enough to allow teammates time to clean up the tackle. While lacking the wiggle to ever be a consistent pass rush threat, Payne's powerful bull rush helps him collapse the pocket from the interior, leaving quarterbacks unable to step up and vulnerable to speed rushers flanking him. Though the statistics do not necessarily reflect it, Payne shows good awareness of passing lanes, getting his hands up in the air and timing jumps to affect quarterbacks' vision. - Rob Rang 12/9/2017
WEAKNESSES Payne offers just phone booth quickness, lacking the acceleration to be much of a threat - even against the run - outside of the tackle box. His thick frame and lack of ideal agility and flexibility make it tough for him to "get skinny" and split gaps to offer much more than a simple bull rush to threaten quarterbacks. Payne shows awareness of passing lanes but lacks the height, arm length and vertical leaping ability to tip many passes at the line of scrimmage and he has zero blocks over his three years at Alabama. -- Rob Rang 12/9/2017
COMPARES TO: Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy, Seahawks. A squatty frame, raw power and use of leverage to bottle up the run helped Kennedy earn a team-record eight Pro Bowls during his 11 years in Seattle despite the fact that he registered more than 6.5 sacks in a season only twice. Payne won't set sack records but his stout frame and awesome strength make him the 2018 draft's top run-plugger.
IN OUR VIEW: A wide-bodied run-stuffer with rare weight-room strength, the aptly-named Payne is Alabama's latest dominating defensive lineman, which in and of itself, means he will generate plenty of interest from the NFL.
Payne may lack the agility to ever develop into a consistent interior pass rush threat, which could put a cap on his draft stock. Payne's awesome power, no-nonsense style and track record of success, however, make him a relatively rare plug and play candidate whose high floor should earn him first round consideration.
Regarded as one of the top defensive line prospects in the nation ... a bruising run-stopper along the Tide front ... totaled 45 tackles, 37 of which have come against the run ... tallied one sack (-7 yards) while adding a team-high eight quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery ... also enters on offense near the goal line in the Tide’s jumbo package ... garnered Second Team All-America accolades from the AFCA ... selected as a First Team All-SEC honoree by the Associated Press while also earning second-team recognition from the coaches .
Collected midseason All-America honors from the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated ... selected as a Second Team Preseason All-American by CBS Sports and Phil Steele ... tabbed to the Nagurski and Outland Trophy Preseason Watch Lists along with the Bednarik Award Watch List ... named one of the UA coaching staff’s defensive players of the week for his play against Colorado State and LSU. Florida State: Tied for third on the team with five stops against the Seminoles ... fought through double-teams to limit the ‘Noles’ rushing attack to only 40 yards on the ground. Fresno State: Collected four tackles against the Bulldogs ... played a key role in holding the FSU running game to only 57 yards on the ground.
Colorado State: Set a then career-high mark for tackles with six stops ... also registered a quarterback hurry and one pass breakup on the night ... earned defensive player of the week accolades from the Alabama coaches for his play against the Rams. Vanderbilt: Made one stop along the defensive front ... played a key role in limiting the Commodores to only 40 yards rushing and just three first downs. Ole Miss: Ranked second on the team with a career-high seven tackles against the Rebels ... added half a sack (-1 yard) ... led a defensive front that held the Ole Miss offense to only 88 yards rushing.
Texas A&M: Finished with six tackles against the Aggies ... helped limit the high-powered A&M offense to only 71 yards on the ground and 308 total yards, well below its average entering the matchup. Arkansas: Did not record a tackle on the night but was dominant up the middle ... finished with a career-high two quarterback pressures, barreling over blockers to disrupt the passing game ... played a key role on UA’s defensive unit that limited the Hogs to 227 total yards and nine points. Tennessee: Provided significant pressure up the middle all afternoon against the Volunteers ... matched his career high with two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup ... also collected one unassisted tackle along the defensive front ... helped the Tide defense hold UT to no offensive touchdowns and only 108 total yards.
LSU: A force along the defensive front against the Tigers ... totaled four tackles with half a sack (-6 yards) ... added one quarterback pressure, his fifth in a three-game span ... contributed to the Tide defense’s season-high six sacks. Mississippi State: Made six stops along the defense front, all coming against the Bulldog rush. Mercer: Totaled two tackles and one quarterback pressure against the Bears ... his play along the line helped limit the MU offense to just 161 yards on the day. Auburn: Recovered his first fumble of the year, while recording three tackles and a quarterback pressure in the Iron Bowl .
One of the key cogs along the Crimson Tide’s vaunted defensive front ... totaled 36 tackles, three quarterback hurries, one pass breakup and a fumble recovery for a touchdown ... added 3.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) and 1.5 sacks (-10 yards) from his nose guard spot ... selected to the Lombardi Award Preseason Watch List, given annually to the nation’s top lineman on offense or defense ... named one of the Alabama coaching staff’s defensive players of the week for his performance against Mississippi State. USC: Started at nose guard but did not record any stats ... helped occupy blockers and limit the Trojan rushing attack to only 64 yards on the ground. Western Kentucky: Recorded three tackles along the defensive line ... helped limit the Hilltopper rushing attack to only 23 yards on the ground. Ole Miss: Made a career-high four stops and recovered a fumble for a touchdown against the Rebels ... picked up the forced fumble created by Ryan Anderson and plunged the ball over the end zone for six as he was being tackled ... his fumble return was one of the Tide’s three non-offensive touchdowns on the afternoon. Kent State: Collected two tackles in his one half of play ... helped limit the Golden Flashes’ rushing attack to only 82 yards on the ground. Kentucky: Finished his night against the Wildcats with one tackle ... played a key role in limiting the UK rushing attack to only 72 yards on the ground.
Arkansas: Recorded three tackles, including the first full sack (-8 yards) of his career ... also added one quarterback hurry against the Razorbacks as part of the Tide’s season-high 12 quarterback pressures. Tennessee: Registered a career-high 1.5 tackles for loss (-2 yards) as part of his two total stops ... played a key role in limiting the Volunteer rushing attack to only 32 yards. Texas A&M: Wrapped up the afternoon with two stops and one pass breakup ... helped limit the Aggies to 278 yards of offense including 114 on the ground. LSU: Spent the night in the Tiger backfield, overpowering the opposing line ... finished with one tackle and one quarterback pressure ... played a key role in limiting the high-powered LSU offense to only 125 yards, including just 33 on the ground. Mississippi State: Finished with a career-high five tackles against the Bulldogs ... added one quarterback pressure ... helped limit the State offense to only 94 yards rushing.
Chattanooga: Made two tackles against the Mocs, including half a tackle for loss (-1 yard) ... helped limit the Chattanooga rushing attack to only 70 yards on the ground. Auburn: Totaled two tackles along the defensive front ... helped limit the high-powered Auburn offense to 182 total yards ... the Tide also held the Tigers -- who entered the game leading the SEC in rushing -- to just 66 yards on the ground or 232 yards less than its season average. Florida: Ate up blocks on the inside but did not record any stats ... played a key role in holding the Gators to 0 yards rushing on the afternoon. Washington: Fought through a stout Husky offensive line to record four stops on the night, all against the run ... helped limit the high-powered Washington offense to only 194 total yards including just 44 on the ground. Clemson: Tied a career-high mark with five tackles against the Tigers ... added half a sack (-2 yards) by night’s end ... played a key role in limiting the CU rushing attack to only 91 yards on the ground.
One of the top reserves along the nation’s top defensive front ... earned freshman All-America honors from ESPN.com ... worked in an expanded role along the defensive front as the season progressed and earned his first career start against Arkansas. Wisconsin: Recorded one assisted tackle in his first action with the Crimson Tide. Middle Tennessee: Broke through the offensive line for one quarterback hurry against the Blue Raiders. Ole Miss: Saw action along the defensive front that limited the Rebels to just 92 yards rushing ... did not record any tackles. ULM: Recorded one tackle along the defensive front ... helped limit the Warhawk rushing attack to only nine yards on the ground. Georgia: Was a physical force in the middle of the line, requiring double teams on multiple plays ... recorded one tackle and one pass breakup by day’s end. Arkansas: Earned his first career start, finishing with three tackles against the Razorbacks ... was key in limiting the Hog rushers to just 44 yards on the ground. Texas A&M: Helped plug up the middle to limit the Aggies to a lowly 32 yards rushing ... did not record any tackles for the first time in his last three games.
Tennessee: Notched two tackles including half of a sack for a loss of three yards ... played a key role in an Alabama pass rush that recorded five total sacks and eight quarterback hurries by day’s end. LSU: Started in the middle but did not record any stats ... helped plug holes for the linebackers ... was key in limiting the Tiger rushing attack to 54 total yards, including 31 by the SEC’s leading rusher in Leonard Fournette. Mississippi State: Had a monster day in Starkville, finishing with a career-high tying three tackles while forcing a fumble ... helped limit Dak Prescott to 14 yards rushing on 26 total carries. Charleston Southern: Made two stops on the day against CSU ... helped limit the Buccaneers to only 134 yards of total offense. Auburn: Saw time along the defensive front but did not record any stats ... helped limit the Tiger rushing attack to only 91 yards, including one total yard on 14 carries in the second half of play. Florida: Started against the Gators but did not record any tackles ... plugged holes to limit the Gators to only 15 yards on the ground. Michigan State: Did not record any stats, but helped clog the middle of the line to limit the Spartans to only 29 yards on the ground. Clemson: Added depth along the Crimson Tide’s vaunted defensive front but did not record any stats.
An elite prospect along the interior of the defensive line … 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection … invited to Nike’s 2014 “The Opening” … five-star prospect by Rivals.com and Scout.com … ranked No. 14 in the final Scout300 and listed as the outlet’s No. 4 defensive tackle, No. 2 tackle the South region and No. 1 player in Alabama … the No. 3 defensive tackle nationally by Rivals.com and No. 19 in the Rivals100 … No. 1 player in the state by Rivals.com … No. 20 in the Prepstar Top 150 Dream Team … listed ninth among defensive tackles by ESPN and the No. 2 player in Alabama … No. 48 in the ESPN300 and No. 26 in the Southeast region … a five-star in the 247Composite where he was the No. 29 overall player and the No. 7 defensive tackle … No. 52 in the Top247 and the No. 7 defensive tackle … No. 2 in the final AL.com 2015 A-List … honorable mention Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State team … participated in the 2014 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … coached by William Smith at Shades Valley High School … chose Alabama over Auburn, Florida State, Clemson and Georgia.
Draft Scout Player News
01/10/18 - Less than 48 hours after Alabama's dramatic win over Georgia in the national championship game, three players for the Crimson Tide announced their intention to enter the NFL Draft. No player boosted his stock at the end of the season more than Payne, who earned defensive MVP honors in both the national title game as well as the Alabama's semifinal win over Clemson. Payne had an interception against Clemson and registered six tackles in the come-from-behind win over Georgia that secured the school's fifth national title in nine seasons. - The Sports Xchange
01/09/18 - The national championship showdown between Alabama and Georgia drew 28.443 million viewers, making it the second-most watched title game in the four-year-old format of the College Football Playoff. Alabama beat Georgia in overtime , rallying from 13 points down in the second half before winning with a game-ending touchdown pass . Viewership for the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was up 13 percent from last season's Clemson-Alabama rematch from the season before. The first CFP championship game between Oregon and Ohio State after the 2014 season drew nearly 34 million viewers, a record for ESPN. This season's CFP semifinals on Jan. 1 and Monday night's championship game averaged more than 26.2 million viewers, up 21 percent from last year. The New Year's Six bowls and championship game drew an average of 17 million viewers, the most in four years of the format. - AP College Football
01/09/18 - Alabama defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne was defensive player of the game. Payne had six tackles and was part of an Alabama defensive front that shut down Georgia's running game in the second half. Payne also intercepted a tipped pass, helping to set up a field goal. - AP College Football
01/04/18 - 2017 ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-BOWL TEAM: All-Purpose: Da'Ron Payne, Alabama (Sugar): This 308-pound defensive lineman had a 21-yard interception return in the third quarter to put Alabama in Clemson territory and capped the Crimson Tide's next series with a 1-yard touchdown catch, where he showed off a ballerina's footwork. - AP College Football
01/02/18 - Nose guard Da'Ron Payne and linebacker Mack Wilson intercepted passes on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, keying a ferocious second-half defensive assault that produced a pair of touchdowns in a 13-second span to power No. 4 Alabama to a 24-6 victory over No. 1 Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Monday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Alabama (12-1) will play Southeastern Conference East rival Georgia (13-1) for the College Football National Championship on Jan. 8 in Atlanta. The two SEC foes have not played each other since 2015, when the Crimson Tide routed Georgia 38-10.
Clemson trailed just 10-6 and had moved to a second-and-2 at the Alabama 35 in the third quarter when the Alabama defense, healthy again after a month of rest, turned the tide. Linebacker Anfernee Jennings came off the edge to hit Kelly Bryant as the quarterback released a pass, and Payne gathered in the weakened throw for the interception, returning it 21 yards. Payne was taken down on an illegal horse-collar tackle by tackle Tremayne Anchrum, setting up Alabama at the Clemson 27. The 6-foot-2, 308-pound Payne followed up his game-turning play by lining up as an H-back, going in motion to the right and catching a wide-open, 1-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone from quarterback Jalen Hurts, putting Alabama up 17-6. - The Sports Xchange