Rhode Island is one of three states to not have a native active NFL player, along with Alaska and Vermont.
That'll change when Kwity Paye makes his NFL debut for the Colts.
Paye's mother, Agnes, was a refugee in the first Liberian civil war and gave birth to his brother, Komotay Koffie, in Sierra Leone. The family then fled to a refugee camp in Guinea, where Paye was born; six months later, the family immigrated to Providence, Rhode Island.
Paye was only the second first-round pick to hail from Rhode Island (Fullback Bill Osmanski, the sixth overall pick in the 1939 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, is the other). And he'll be the 40th player from Rhode Island to play in the NFL when he makes his debut.
For reference, 37 Florida natives were drafted in 2021.
Paye will also become the first player born in Guinea to play in the NFL. While he may not have been born in Liberia, he does aim to give back to the country in the NFL. Ten players born in Liberia have played in the NFL, including longtime Kansas City Chiefs edge rusher Tamba Hali.
Quarterback Sam Ehlinger and tight end Kylen Granson, who both attended Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, were the only pair of high school teammates to be drafted by the same team in 2021.
Those small world vibes are rare, but not unprecedented, in recent NFL Drafts. In 2018, Washington drafted Stonewall Jackson High School (Manassas, Va.) teammates defensive lineman Tim Settle and cornerback Greg Stroman; that same year, Carolina picked two Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) alumni in defensive lineman Kendrick Norton and linebacker Andre Smith.
Take Me Home, Country Roads
Mike Strachan became the fourth Charleston (W.V.) player to be picked in an NFL Draft last weekend when the Colts took him with the first selection in the seventh round. Others who emerged from the Division II university of about 3,000 students:
- DE John Cominskey (2019 fourth round pick, Atlanta Falcons)
- DB Rich Mostardo (1960 12th round pick, Cleveland Browns)
- DE/T/G/E/LB Verlin Adams (1943 31st round, New York Giants)
Eight players from Charleston have played in an NFL game, including those three picks and DB/LB/HB Jimmy Carr, who played in 108 games for the Chicago Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington from 1955-1965.
If Strachan gets on the field for the Colts, he'll become the fourth Bahamian to play in the NFL, joining wide receiver Devard Darling (2004-2008), defensive back Jocelyn Borgella (1994-1996) and defensive end Ed Smith (1973-1974). Darling was a third round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2004.