Never heard of Kyle Dugger? That’s not a surprise – he’s just the ninth player to be drafted out of tiny Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory, N.C.
Here’s what you need to know about him:
Position: Defensive back
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 217 lbs.
Dugger was a Division-II star for Lenoir-Rhyne, a hyper-athletic defensive talent who occasionally overwhelmed the competition. He won the Cliff Harris Award, given to the best defensive player in NCAA Division II, and impressed at the Senior Bowl and the combine, causing a spike in his overall draft stock.
As a senior, he was slowed a bit by a hand injury which limited him to seven games, but still posted impressive numbers across the board, including 31 tackles, two interceptions, and four pass breakups. He also offers special teams value, as he had 12 punt returns for 175 yards (a 14.6 average) to go along with two touchdowns.
While the pick isn’t necessarily at an overwhelming position of need on paper, the Patriots do need to get younger at safety, as veterans Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are currently among the most senior players on the roster. You toss in the fact that New England dealt Duron Harmon this offseason, and it would appear that Dugger would have a chance to contribute immediately on defense for the Patriots. In addition, it’s worth mentioning that he should have a chance to contribute as a returner immediately — Gunner Olszewski and Mohamed Sanu were New England’s punt returners in 2019.