The still-growing defensive end/linebacker prospect took advantage of the unfortunate suspension costing former teammate Robert Quinn his junior year in 2010, and now is in the same position as Quinn to secure a high draft slot with continued success.
The highly-touted high school star did not make as big of an impact as he would have liked as a freshman, playing in eight games, making just five tackles, including two sacks.
But his numbers greatly increased after the depth chart thinned out due to suspensions in 2010. He started 12 of 13 games, making 49 tackles, 13.5 for loss, and seven sacks. His 1.5 sacks, forced fumble and blocked extra point helped the team get a Music City Bowl few expected given all of the talent lost to scandal during the season.
Paige-Moss' immaturity was on display during his freshman year in an on-campus altercation with a teammate and post-game dust-up with a North Carolina State player (which resulted in his being suspended for the team's bowl game).
If he avoids those types of incidents as a junior, and learns to regularly use his hands to pressure quarterbacks on the edge while still playing the run strong, Paige-Moss should be a viable first round choice as a 4-3 end or 3-4 linebacker as an early entrant for the 2012 draft.
Pass Rush: Flashes strength and leverage to bull rush tackles into the quarterback, able to rip inside or outside and reach the quarterback while engaged. Keeps moving towards the passer until the ball is away, getting most sacks on secondary hustle rushes. Able to spin off block to return to pocket if pushed outside.
Rarely allowed to rush wide in UNC's scheme, usually contains the edge, slips inside, or used on end-tackle twists. Look flexible enough to turn the corner while engaged, though. Drops into coverage from a three-point stance on some plays, affects passing lanes with his height and length.
Defeats cut blocks well with his hands, keeps his eyes on the quarterback, jumps into passing lanes to knock down throws at the line. Must learn to use violent hands to release from blockers more regularly.
Run Defense: Plays with natural bend and strength at the point of attack, does not get washed out like many defensive ends because of his anchor. Coached to contain on his side of the line, capable of forcing running backs east-west and uses his long arms to wrap them if they try to cut inside. Takes down fullback cut blocks, stays in the play. Must be aware of, and anchor more consistently against, double-teams on the edge.
Explosion: Does not have an elite first step as a pass rusher, but is able to pressure tackles' upfield shoulder when given the chance to pin his ears back. Comes off the snap low and hard when playing the run, usually finishes on the opponents' side of the line when asked to play over the tackle.
Strength: Gets stronger each year, has great upside as a three-down defender. Usually plays with leverage on the edge against the run and pushes through single and double-team blocks as a pass rusher. Gets low in short-yardage situations to maintain the line of scrimmage. Loses his anchor at times, getting pushed back a bit a yard or two, when arms aren't extended into blocker.
Tackling: Does not have elite hustle and quickness to the ball, but combines length and strength to be an effective tackler around the line or chasing downfield. Plays lower than expected at his height, with good natural bend to break down quickly and wrap up in space. Closes on most quarterbacks when they start to scramble, also capable of chasing them down toward the sideline on bootlegs.
Intangibles: Had trouble keeping his temper during his first year at UNC: arrested for simple assault in July 2009 after getting into a fight with a teammate in a dorm room, then suspended for Meineke Car Care Bowl last year for an incident with a N.C. State player after their match-up. Reportedly maturing as a person and player, though still shows excitement and confidence on the field after making a big play."
Isn't a quick-twitch type athlete who can get to the edge. However, when he keeps his pad level down can create a snap into contact as a bull rusher and is naturally balanced enough to use his length to slip a block and make his way toward the quarterback. Doesn't have a great explosive closing burst, but uses his length well to breakdown and wrap.
However, too often his second step is upright into contact, which really negates his power on contact. Allows defenders to get into his frame and doesn't use his hands well enough to gain leverage and shed. Gets held up far too often as a pass rusher for a guy with his talents and looks content to be blocked at times.
The same inconsistencies pop up in the run game. Where at times he plays low, physical and can be effective as an anchorman with the ability to shed and tackle. However, for the most part gets sloppy/high off the ball, allows defenders to get into him and is pushed backwards at the line of scrimmage.
Showcases some balance when asked to defeat slide down blocks because of his natural length/athleticism. However, even then gets upright and against longer/athletic tackles can still be washed out of plays too easily vs. the run.
Suffered an ACL injury during his final game in 2011 and medical is an issue. Also, has some off the field and on the field character concerns that could cause a talent like this to fall.
Impression: A talented kid who has the skill set, but never put it together as a sophomore and displays a questionable motor as a junior. If the light ever goes on he looks like a potential NFL starter. However, with the knee injury and concerns off the field isn't much more than a later round/free agent boom or bust guy."
He is a player with a ton of upside and this year will be key to his development. As a pass rusher, Paige-Moss needs to work on developing different pass rushing techniques. He relies heavily on his effecitive bull rush and struggles reaching the edge. The quickness off the ball and athletic ability are present for Paige-Moss to develop into a good speed rusher. However, this part of his game will never be considered elite.
Against the run, Paige-Moss does a nice job using his hands and leverage to keep clean. He keeps his head up and quickly identifies the football. Paige-Moss needs to add more bulk and strength but the basics are there for him to develop into a very good run defender.
Bold statement: Donte Paige- Moss will not play outside linebacker in the NFL.
Games viewed: NC State ('10), Florida State ('10), Tennessee ('10), Virginia Tech ('10)
- Paige-Moss has a nice thick base and appears to have more bulk than his listed size
- He does a good job firing off the ball low and using his hands to jolt the lineman
- His 1st step and burst off the line is excellent
- Paige-Moss hands are routinely inside the frame of the lineman allow him to control
- He keeps his pad level low maintaining leverage throughout the play
- Paige-Moss combines his good technique with a strong leg drive
- This combination allows him to be a successful bull rusher
- His heavy hands and good technique help him disengage from the blocker
- After he disengages, his quick short area burst helps him pursue the football
- He really does a great job shedding the blocker
- Paige-Moss always is able to locate the football because he keeps his head up and has good arm extension
- His quick first step makes it hard for blockers to get across his face and allows him to penetrate the pocket
- Paige-Moss as a decent anchor that will only improve as he gains more bulk and strength.
- He is not much of a speed rusher and heavily relies on his strength to create pressure
- At this point, he is undersized for the defensive end position and doesn't appear to have fluid enough hips to make the adjustment to outside linebacker"
Not all that big at a bulked up 250 pounds, but is very strong; still not all that effective a run defender as he can be engulfed by big OTs at the point of attack, although he can extend plays to the sidelines;
Has a long quick first stride and good closing speed; also has a long wingspan and uses reach well to gain leverage getting to the edge;
Somewhat hyper personality who plays hard, but was suspended from the Heels’ 2009 bowl after getting in a fight with an opponent; was also charged with a misdemeanor assault after getting into a dorm-fight with a teammate."
The defensive end recorded 49 tackles (13.5 for loss) and seven sacks. Seeing more attention from offensive lines while also sharing time with a host of other star defenders on the Tar Heels, Paige-Moss has 4.5 sacks (tied for first on the team with Zach Brown) and 6.5 tackles for loss (second behind Brown) through eight games.
The Jacksonville, NC native stands at 6'4'' and 260 pounds. He has impressive speed for a man of his size, running in the 4.6 range in the 40-yard dash while having been clocked as fast as 4.57 from that distance.
Paige-Moss is extremely quick off the ball and has the potential to develop into an elite pass rusher at the next level. His technique could be improved and a more impressive array of moves would benefit him, so that he does not have to merely rely on his speed to race past offensive tackles."