Combine Results

6.51 ?
  • 4.95 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 27 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 28.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 107.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 7.58 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.71 SEC
    Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

  • 6'2" Height
  • 33" Arm Length
  • 311LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/8" Hands


Payne came to Alabama as a 350-pound behemoth who was a top 20 national high school recruit, but for his senior year played closer to 300 while still keeping his elite strength to move back the center and shed the block to make plays. With Jonathan Allen in the pros, Payne took over as the playmaker inside, earning second-team All-SEC honors (53 tackles, one sack, one interception, three pass break-ups). Payne saved his best for last, dominating inside against Georgia in the national championship game. He was a 15-game starter as a sophomore in 2016, making 36 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and 1.5 sacks from the nose guard position. Payne started three games in the middle as a true freshman in 2015, stopping the ball 13 times with half a tackle for loss.



Built like a wall of granite with exceptional lean muscle mass. Tremendous natural strength. Could bench press 400 pounds in high school. Run-stuffer deluxe with elite contact balance and body control. Only on the ground when making a tackle. Plays like a pro. Has feel for adjacent pressure against double teams. Quick to drop his anchor and grow roots. Typical Alabama technician at the position. Debilitating initial punch jars offensive linemen off their gameplan. Two-gaps with arm extension and his eyes in the backfield. Offenses simply shouldn't run at him. Eats blocks and keeps linebackers clean. Has to be schemed against. Hands and feet are full synced. Gifted athlete who showed marked improvement as rusher. Increased pressures from 15 to 27 this year. Fluid mover with above-average range to chase. Utilizes slap/arm-over to work around blocker's edge. Can walk interior linemen back into pocket with bullrush. Considered one of the most respected leaders during Saban era.


Doesn't come off the snap with much juice and will pop up a little tall. Has athletic ability but is more of a phone booth defender than down-the-line tackler. Square-up player with average change of direction or ability to get the upper body turn to climb over and around the top. Pass rush can come to a grinding halt if his first move is stopped. Ability to play on rush downs could be the difference between first and second.

Draft Projection

Round 1

Sources Tell Us

"I think A'Shawn Robinson was more talented than Da'Ron (Payne) and I know Robinson had better (tackle-for-loss) and sack production than him, but Payne plays harder and I think he'll be the better NFL player. He's thick and strong, but he's also a really good athlete and I see his best football in front of him." - NFC executive

NFL Comparison

Brandon Williams

Bottom Line

Payne possesses one of the most impressive combinations of strength and athleticism that we've seen from an interior lineman. He will be the premier run-stuffer in this draft, but he may have enough in the pass rushing toolbox to project as a better pro than college pass rusher. Payne is a game-ready starter who immediately upgrades a defense's ability to slow the run. If teams view him as just a run-down player, then his draft value could fall a little, but he could become a Pro Bowl defender early in his career.
-Lance Zierlein
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-9.00 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl to All-Pro Ability
6.50-6.99 Good NFL Starter with Pro Bowl Potential
6.00-6.49 Chance to become good NFL starter
5.70-5.99 Could become early NFL starter
5.30-5.69 Backup or eventual starter
5.15-5.29 Developmental prospect or special teams potential
5.01-5.14 Back end of the roster
5.00 50/50 Chance of making the roster