EDITORIAL: Feed the Light: High-character Paye fits Colts' vision for roster

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May 17—The evaluation of an NFL prospect is a complex process.

The team receives reports from area scouts who attend games throughout the college seasons, and team personnel review hours of college game tape.

Then there's the NFL Combine. An athlete's physical traits are measured. They are put through a series of position-related drills. And teams conduct interviews with potential targets, probing their football knowledge and getting a sense of who they are as a person.

After the Combine comes Pro Days at colleges, where are all the potential draftees from a school workout for scouts, general managers and coaches. There are also in-person workouts at team facilities, where GMs and coaches can conduct medical tests and have in-depth interviews with athletes.

Throughout the process, athleticism and football talent are at the forefront of the evaluation.

But, at least in the Indianapolis Colts' draft room, there's another element that's just as important.

Character.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich have built the current roster based on that trait. They believe they are stronger as a unit if their individual pieces, from the top of the roster to the bottom, are great people first and great athletes second. High-character players fight through adversity and reach their ceiling instead of giving up when times get tough.

When the time arrived for the Colts to make their first-round selection in the 2021 Draft, Ballard and Reich didn't hesitate to turn their card in with the name of a player who has known adversity, who has known toil and just happened to fill a position of great need on the roster.

Michigan's Kwity Paye.

Paye was born in a refugee camp in Guinea after his mother fled war-torn Liberia. After immigrating to the United States as a young child, Paye grew up in Rhode Island and eventually found football as an outlet for his athleticism. He was offered a spot at a prestigious private school, where he could chase his football dreams. Attending the school meant his mother would have to work nearly 24 hours a day to pay the tuition. But he told her if she let him go his college would be paid for.

It was. And now, as Paye told her after being selected by the Colts, his mother doesn't have to work another day in her life.

But Paye isn't just a feel-good story or simply a football player. He's devoted himself to volunteer work, diving into whatever project or football camp was before him with the same tenacity as when he's pursuing opposing quarterbacks.

So, while it's fantastic the Colts have got a talented player to add to their imposing defense, it's even better that Indianapolis has another high-quality player who will have an immediate and lasting impact on our state.