Next Pats Podcast; What made the Patriots fall in love with Division II safety Kyle Dugger?

Patrick Dunne
NBC Sports Boston

While their fans may not have heard of Kyle Dugger before Friday night, the Patriots sure had. The safety from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne chosen 37th overall was one of three players they had targeted heading into the second round and they came away with two from that wish list.

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That's one of the observations from Phil Perry on the Pats' Day 2 haul from the 2020 NFL Draft that Perry breaks down on his Next Pats Podcast.

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"[Patriots personnel director] Nick Casero told us they went into the second round with three names written down and he said if they could get one of those three guys, they'd be pretty happy. One of them was Kyle Dugger. Another was Josh Uche [the linebacker from who New England chose late in Round 2 with the 60th pick overall]."

Why was Dugger off the radar at a Division II school in Hickory, N.C.?

"He's 170 pounds, 5-foot-11 as a senior in high school," Perry pointed out, noting that Dugger had no offers from Division I-A, a.k.a. Football Bowl Subdivision, schools. "He ends up gaining 50 pounds over the course of his college career and became one of the most explosive athletes in this draft. He tested out as basically a 99th-percentile athlete at this year's combine." 

Now, 6-1, 215 pounds, Dugger put himself on the radar with his combine and Senior Bowl performances. "He gets his hands on the football three different times," Perry said of his play in the college All-Star Game in January. "He picks off one pass and breaks up three others."

The Patriots go the dual tight end route in Round 3 with the selections of UCLA's Devin Asiasi and Virginia Tech's Dalton Keene, 10 picks apart at 91st and 101st. 

Of Asiasi, 6-3, 280 pounds, Perry said, "One of the things that [Bill] Belichick highlights multiple times. He wants a receiver at tight end. A good marker is what they do after the catch. Asiasi does not go down easily."  

And Keene's versatility makes him a different kind of tight end than Asiasi. 

"He's an interesting prospect," Perry said. "He checks just about every single box you could want when it comes to this position. Athletically, physically. 6-foot-4, 250 pounds...Taylor-made for New England. I had one tight ends coach tell me, 'Hard-working, tough, no-regard-for-his health type of guy.' "

There's more from Perry on the Patriots second- and third-round picks in the Next Pod Podcast. It can also be viewed on YouTube here:

Next Pats Podcast; What made the Patriots fall in love with Division II safety Kyle Dugger? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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