By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots have a history of striking out on second-round defensive backs in the NFL Draft. If early indications hold, Kyle Dugger will not be a part of that group.
A Division II product out of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Dugger will have as big a transition as any rookie adjusting to the NFL. Transitioning from a small program to a blue-blood NFL franchise may seem like a tall task, but Dugger isn’t phased. The 24-year-old told reporters on Friday that he is “really trying to take things one day at a time and just really focus on whatever the focus is that day for the team.”
Even with that focus, Dugger isn’t letting the experience pass him by. Asked what it was like to step on the field for the first time in the NFL, he told reporters, “It’s undescribable (sic). It’s really a great feeling. A real blessing. Just being out there is so joyous and I love being able to be out there and touch the field and play the game. It’s really undescribable (sic).”
But Dugger knows that he can’t be star struck for long. “As soon as that whistle blows. It’s like a snap,” he added. “You take it in, enjoy every second of it, but I realized early that I am here to do a job and that is to help this team however I can. As soon as that whistle blows, I am locked right in and focused on what I need to do.”
As far as what Dugger needs to do’ – the biggest question right now is if he will play in the box or as a deep safety. Reports from practice make it seem like he could end up doing a bit of both, a challenge the rookie says he is ready to accept.
“I feel like as I continue to see different things in every position, obviously the more I can do the better,” he told reporters. “The veterans and coaches have been huge in helping me get a feel for both spots. I can’t say what I feel more comfortable doing (either), but I want to be comfortable doing both, equally.”
Lucky for Dugger, he has two of the best players in the league at both spots to learn from in Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung.
“It’s been huge just being able to pick the brains of those guys, and really everybody in the room with me, as well as other rooms,” Dugger said. “[It] has just been huge for me to sit down and understand how they see the game with all the experiences they’ve had.”
With the Patriots thin at safety following Chung’s opt out, the Patriots need Dugger to learn as much as he can as fast as he can. If the team feels comfortable enough giving him a significant role in the defense, he has the physical tools to be an impact player right away.
For more updates on Dugger and Patriots training camp, be sure to keep checking in with 985TheSportsHub.com.