NFL Draft: Karl Paymah goes Mile High

WASHINGTON STATE cornerback Karl Paymah became the first Cougar selected in the 2005 NFL draft --- and the fifth WSU defensive back taken in the last four years --- when the Denver Broncos called his name with the first of three third-round picks. He was the No. 12 pick in the round and the 76th selection overall.

"We felt very good about him from the start," said Denver coach Mike Shanahan. "He has good one-on-one cover skills, is very quick and has good size."

Paymah (6-0, 204), was in New Orleans when he got the call from Denver -- he was thrilled with the thought of playing in the Mile High City.

"I'm down in New Orleans with my family," Paymah is quoted as telling the Broncos. "It's unbelievable. It's a day I've pretty much been waiting for all my life, and it finally came. It's just great. I have all my family around me. They are all happy, and that's like the best thing."

The two-year starter at Washington State said he's very excited to being on the same team as corner Champ Bailey, who was selected to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl in 2004.

"He's the greatest corner, one of the best corners out there. I try to pattern my game on him."

Paymah turned heads, including that Shanahan's, at the NFL Combine when he turned in a 4.3 time in the 40-yard dash.

"He's one of those corners that can play outside, bump coverage, man-on-man," said the Denver head man. "He has great speed and great length. He was a two-year starter and the one thing that you can't substitute is that speed. We feel like we have a corner that is pretty physical on the outside, pretty good size and possibly a corner, even though he is a little bit shorter, he still has the ability to play outside. But we think he fits in well in the nickel package. He was in that 4.33-4.34 range. Two clocks got him at 4.32. Two clocks got him at 4.34."

Paymah lettered three years in track at Culver City (Calif.) High, including his junior year when he was named MVP of the track team. He said his experience in the sport came into play at the NFL combine.

"It helped me out a lot, tremendously," said Paymah. "A lot of teams felt that I was slow, and I didn't know where they were getting that from because I never ran for them. I had that track background, so I already new I was fast and all I had to do was come out and prove it for teams and that's what I did."

Paymah becomes the fifth WSU defensive back to be drafted in the last four years, and will be looking to achieve a similar level of success enjoyed by the quartet of Cougar DBs who have found early success in the pros. In 2004, Erik Coleman was drafted by the New York Jets and Jason David was selected by Indianapolis. Marcus Trufant was picked by Seattle in the first round of 2003. The year before that, Lamont Thompson, now with the Titans, was the 41st player selected in the draft when Cincinnati chose him in the second round.

Paymah said his physical strengths will be complemented by an intense desire to hit the ground running from Day One in Denver.

"Pretty much my size and my speed," he said when asked about his strengths. "I'm focused and an educated corner. I'm going to bring a lot to the table because I am going to come in hungry and ready to play."

Stay tuned to all weekend for continuing coverage of the NFL draft.

Cougfan Top Stories