When the New England Patriots selected Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, a lot of fans were unhappy.
“Why would we pick a safety from a division II college with our first pick?”
That concern is understandable. People consider the level of competition Dugger faced in college compared to what he is about to face in the NFL. And when that college competition consists of little professional talent, there has to be the worry that someone like Dugger won’t be able to make the jump. But based on early camp reports, that hasn’t been an issue.
Been awhile since a #Patriots rookie played as well as Kyle Dugger has early in camp. Whether he’s playing on the backend or down in the box, he’s around the ball constantly.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 19, 2020
This is great news for both the Patriots and their fans. In what can be defined as a new era of New England football, draft picks become even more. That’s especially true when it comes to the defensive side of the football.
Defensive staples Dont’a Hightower and Devin McCourty are not getting any younger. Both are in the latter parts of their career in the quest to get another Super Bowl ring. Still, at the ages of 30 (Hightower) and 33 (McCourty), that journey for them is not going to last forever.
Devin McCourty just said, “when I was a rookie Kevin Faulk told me…” incase you need a reminder of how long Devin McCourty has been with the Patriots
— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) August 18, 2020
You could even add players like Patrick Chung and Lawrence Guy to that list as well. Both are north of 30 and are on the same trajectory as McCourty and Hightower. Simply put, the Pats are old.
With that being said, New England is going to need new guys to come in and bring a presence / lead the defense for years to come. With Dugger being the high pick he that he was, the Patriots and their fans are hopeful the DII safety will be able to fill those shoes.
Rookie safety Kyle Dugger just picked off Cam Newton in the end zone on a passing attempt to tight end Ryan Izzo.
Dugger has been impressive three days into camp.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) August 19, 2020
Obviously it remains to be seen if Dugger will be up for the task, but if his early camp performance (despite the bizarre situation) is any indication, Bill Belichick has added a great new toy to play with on his defense for years to come.
– Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)