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#CFBTop25: No. 23, Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

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John David Mercer / USA TODAY Sports

A fierce presence at nose guard for the Crimson Tide, Da'Ron Payne enters 2017 as one of the top interior defensive linemen in college football. With a rare blend of size, strength and athleticism, he was up to the task of filling the void left by 2016 second-round pick A'Shawn Robinson.

The 6-foot-2, 308-pound (school measurements) junior recorded 36 tackles, including 3.5 for loss (1.5 sacks) and a fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown, last season. He's been more adept at stuffing the run than rushing the passer. Payne has room, and plenty of potential, to improve in that area.

CFB 24/7 is marking the days to the start of the 2017 season by counting down the top 25 players in college football.

Pulling back the curtain on the vote

Payne received votes from two of seven CFB 24/7 experts, including one top-10 vote. analyst Lance Zierlein ranks him third among his top 11 defensive linemen to watch in 2017.

What some of our analysts are saying about Payne

"Payne has powerful hands and elite upper-body strength to overwhelm blockers and muddy the running lanes. Don't sleep on his ability to pressure quarterbacks as well." -- Lance Zierlein

"Think Marcell Dareus, but with a better motor." -- Chase Goodbread

Where do fans rank Payne?

We asked Twitter users who they considered the best player in college football. Payne didn't receive a vote. It isn't a surprise, given that players who work inside the trenches typically don't receive much support in our #CFBTop25 fan vote. However, given Payne's potential and Alabama's history of producing NFL defensive linemen, fans would be wise to familiarize themselves with him.

Follow College Football 24/7 on Twitter @NFL_CFB.



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