Bill Being Bill: Patriots Reach for D-II Safety Kyle Dugger with 37th Pick

The Patriots drafted D-II safety Kyle Dugger our of Lenoir Rhyne in North Carolina with their first pick in the post Tom Brady era.


Welp, he did it again. Bill Belichick did what Bill Belichick does. Took a player he liked in the second round WAY earlier than almost everyone predicted they would go.

Instead of taking an edge defender like AJ Epenesa or WR Denzel Mims the Pats reached for D-II safety Kyle Dugger our of Lenoir Rhyne in North Carolina.

Here’s what CLNS Draft expert Evan Lazar wrote about Dugger who he projected as a 3rd round talent.

Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

Background: Lenoir-Rhyne college hasn’t had an NFL draft pick in 20 years, but Dugger will change that and become the highest player drafted from the school in a few weeks. Dugger tested in the 99th percentile at the combine checking every single box from an athletic standpoint, showing a rare combination of size and athleticism that’s hard to find even at the FBS level, let alone division two. He then went to the Senior Bowl and performed well in Mobile, flashing sticky man coverage skills in one-on-ones as well as physical run support. At times, Dugger’s motor was hot and cold, seemingly bored with his level of competition. But when he’s focused, he was a man amongst boys, which is what you want to see in division two. 

How He Wins: Dugger has impressive reps in high zone coverage ranging over the top to contest downfield throws. He also can play man coverage effectively. However, his play speed and physicality show up most in run support where he’ll streak across the field and lay the wood on ball carriers. Dugger is also a core special teamer and offers punt return abilities, returning six punts for touchdowns in his career. He’s a little raw with his reads from high zone and anticipating downfield routes, which puts him in the developmental stage. But he’s going to be a starter eventually. Ideally, Dugger would play a Chung-like role, manning up in the box or playing intermediate zones.