Patriots

5 things to know about Patriots 2nd-round pick Kyle Dugger

An engineering physics major, the star basketball player focused his senior project on his NFL dreams.

Kyle Dugger. AP/Charlie Neibergall

On the second night of the NFL Draft, the Patriots made their first selection, taking safety Kyle Dugger out of Lenoir-Rhyne as the 37th overall pick.

Dugger earned a 6.34 prospect grade from the NFL, projecting that he will be a starter within his first two seasons in the league.

Here are five things to know about the 6-feet-1-inch, 217-pound Dugger,who posted a 4.49 second time in the 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 42 inches at the NFL Combine.

An historic pick

The first player from Lenoir-Rhyne to be drafted since 2000 (John Milem), Dugger is the first D2 player to be selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft since 2006, when the Oakland Raiders selected Thomas Howard from Texas-El Paso.

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He’s the first Patriots pick to come from a D2 school since Zach Moore (Concordia) was called in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. Moore was active in eight regular games with New England, recording three tackles, a half sack, and a forced fumble, but did not appear in the postseason as the team won Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle. He was released in September 2015 and went on to play four more years in the NFL.

He spent six years in college.

Dugger, who turned 24 on March 22, enrolled at Lenoir-Rhyne for the 2014 season, which he redshirted. After appearing as a 10-game starter for the Bears as a redshirt freshman in 2015, he sat out his sophomore year as a medical redshirt.

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He erupted as a junior, earning first team All-South Atlantic Conference honors at defensive back and return specialist, also earning second team All-Region and honorable mention All-American honors at the latter position.

Despite missing time as a senior in 2019, appearing in just seven games due to a hand injury, Dugger was honored with the Cliff Harris Award as the best small-school defensive player.

His senior project showed his focus on the NFL.

In February, Dugger joined forces with two of his football teammates to build a laser-timed 40-yard dash machine for his senior project as an engineering physics major.

“The most important thing to me was getting stuff done,” Dugger said in a promotional video from the university. “When we’d get to a problem, and we’d be hung up on it, and we’d complete it, it was a great feeling.”

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A story from Lenoir-Rhyne details how Dugger and his teammates Demarius Hampton and Saaehim Brooks sometimes worked on the timer late into the night, because it was their only opportunity between football and classes. Dugger worked mainly on the software portion of the project.

In the end, they built a cell phone-operated timer that would stop when a runner crossed a laser at the finish line. Dugger said the timer was modeled after technology used at the NFL Combine.

A basketball family

Dugger’s mother, Kimberly, was inducted to the Fort Valley State University Hall of Fame after a record career at the school south of Atlanta. A power forward, she had offers from more than 40 schools, including Tennessee, but decided to stay closer to home.

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His older brother, Patrick, played professional basketball internationally.

It almost looked as though Dugger would play basketball at the next level, too, earning first-team all-county honors at Whitewater High School in Decateur, Ga.

A self-confessed ‘late bloomer’

Maybe it was the basketball genetics, but Dugger, who was a 5-foot-11-inch, 170-pound guard, didn’t crack the starting lineup on the football team until his senior year.

“I was a late bloomer,” Dugger said, according to The Athletic. “I feel that made a lot of schools skeptical.”

 

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