New England Patriots

Jan 23, 2020; Mobile, Alabama, USA; South safety Kyle Dugger of Lenoir Rhyne (23) works through a drill during Senior Bowl practice at University of South Alabama’s Jaguar Football Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots selected safety Kyle Dugger out of Lenior-Rhyne University with the 37th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Dugger entered the draft as NFL.com’s third-best prospect at the safety position, behind only Alabama’s Xavier McKinney (who went at the previous spot to the Giants) and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. His draft profile describes him as a “versatile, scheme-friendly safety who helps immediately on special teams and could develop into a talented NFL starter.”

Dugger dominated statistically while playing at lower-level competition at Lenoir-Rhyne. He made two interceptions, six passes defensed, and 31 total tackles in just seven games in 2019. As a senior, Dugger won the Cliff Harris Award as the best defensive player in Division II football.

The safety also returned kicks and punts for Lenoir-Rhyne, totaling 924 return yards over his last three seasons. He made 164 total interception return yards, the seventh-most in team history.

Dugger sounds like a strong candidate to contribute right away on special teams, with an eye toward developing into a regular role on the defense. The Patriots still have Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung atop the safety depth chart, but Dugger has a chance to provide long-term security for the position.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.