Recruit Breakdown – A Look at Patrick Payton

Miami-Northwestern standout outside linebacker Patrick Payton announced Monday that he was committing to Florida State, giving the Seminoles a much-needed athlete with the ability to get to the quarterback. In this piece, we look forward to what we can expect from Payton on the next level for FSU.

Despite Patrick Payton’s commitment to Nebraska earlier this year, Florida State continued to heavily recruit the south Florida outside linebacker. That hard work paid off Monday as FSU was able to land the commitment from the 4-star standout.

One of the biggest reasons why Payton is rated as the 150th best player nationally on 247sports, and a top 20 player in Florida, is his combination of speed, athleticism, and his innate ability to get to the quarterback. Payton emerged onto the scene last season as he had 17.5 sacks as a junior which included 5 versus the eventual 8A state champions.

Let’s look at what Patrick can bring to FSU. Fans of the Seminoles know how big of a commitment this is for the defense. Over the past several seasons the Noles haven’t been able to get to the quarterback on a consistent basis – Payton is a prospect that can have an immediate impact in this department in 2021.

  • Frame – Payton is very similar to former FSU star Brian Burns at this stage. Payton is 6’5” and over 205 pounds. Burns was 218 pounds as a senior at American Heritage. Payton is super long with long arms, something that bodes well for him in college. At the high school level, Payton shows an advanced ability to use his reach to keep offensive linemen off of him, and he uses his hands well to re-direct lineman and get to the QB. He looks stronger on film than you would think a tall, lanky linebacker would look. 
  • Speed and Burst – Getting 17.5 sacks against the best high school football played nationally in S. Florida is nothing to scoff at. The word elite is used too often, but Payton has elite burst and explosion off the line. This allows him to get past the tackle very quickly, oftentimes when he’s still coming out of his stance. 
  • Body Control – Payton will need to get bigger to be a constant threat in college, and that will dictate how much of an impact he can make. Despite being a tad undersized right now, Patrick shows excellent ability to control his body and adjust mid play. Despite being fast, he is able to stop on a dime and change directions to make a play. He has really good bend off the edge, also. When a tackle gets their hands on Payton he is pushed upfield, Payton is able to stop, re-direct and cross back to make plays while accelerating into the ball carrier. This combo is what makes Patrick such an enticing prospect on the collegiate level.
  • Production – 17.5 sacks last year, and a senior season that isn’t complete yet – Payton makes plays. His senior year highlight film is full of them, from touchdowns to sacks, Payton has a really good motor and is productive amongst the best overall talent in the nation. 

Patrick may not be an immediate, full-time contributor as he needs to add weight. If he can get to 220 pounds before the start of the 2021 season Payton could be a pass rushing specialist for FSU, which is something that’s been missed since Burns left. Rushing the quarterback is a game of angles, moves and athletic ability – Payton’s game shows he’s a natural pass rusher, which makes him a major piece to the 2021 class and the team moving forward. 

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