Next Pats Podcast: This Senior Bowl star could be the next Kyle Dugger

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Justin Leger
·2 min read
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Next Pats Podcast: This Senior Bowl star could be the next Kyle Dugger originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

When Bill Belichick selected Kyle Dugger in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, some were wary of the New England Patriots head coach taking a chance on the safety out of Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Fast-forward to today, and that pick is looking like one of the better ones Belichick has made in recent years.

If not for Dugger's standout performance in the Senior Bowl, he may not have been as high on Belichick's radar. That's why this week's Senior Bowl is important for those wondering who The Hoodie may have his eye on this spring.

Potential Patriots you need to pay attention to at the Senior Bowl

So who could be the next Dugger? Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan joined Phil Perry on a brand new Next Pats Podcast to discuss who Bill Belichick may target from a small school this time around.

Next Pats Podcast: This Senior Bowl star could be the next Kyle Dugger | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"I like Cade Johnson, the wide receiver out of South Dakota State," Hunt said. "He's a slot guy, he's tremendous as far as what he can do with the football in his hands. You go back and watch his game against Minnesota last year, he was able to dominate in that ballgame against a very good Gopher defense that had Antoine Winfield Jr. on it and many other good players. ...

"When you have a guy like Cade Johnson who is about 5-10, 185, he can be in that Troy Brown mold or what we've seen from Antonio Brown, maybe not as explosive. ... That would be a good step to go as far as getting someone from an FCS who was dominant in that conference."

2021 Senior Bowl is swimming in wide receiver options for Patriots

Perry cited stats posted by Ben Fennell NFL Network to show just how effective Johnson has been after the catch with South Dakota State.

"The last three years combined, YAC per catch, Cade Johnson (9.4 yards after reception per catch) ahead of Devonta Smith who has been freaky after the catch for Alabama, Tutu Atwell who has all kinds of speed in Louisville, Amari Rodgers, Marquez Stevenson, so really impressive career at South Dakota."

Also discussed in the new episode: History shows the Patriots are fans of players from the Senior Bowl. Will the Patriots benefit from the depth at WR in the draft? And Perry answers your draft questions.

Check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch on YouTube below: