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Patriots rookie comparisons: Kyle Dugger, safety

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Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger landed in New England at pick No. 37 overall

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

In an effort to put an end to the long-standing question of “Who does he remind me of?” Keagan Stiefel has compiled a list of player comparisons for the New England Patriots’ 2020 rookies. Each will get a pro comparison and a comparison to a current or former Patriot. Now, these rookies are not necessarily going to become those that they are compared to. But they share similarities in terms of playing style.

The decision to draft yet another defensive back in the second round — 10 since 2000 — doesn’t look so bad now, does it? Patrick Chung, along with seven other Patriots, have made the decision to opt out of the 2020 NFL season. Doing so opened up the spot that has been filled for the better part of a decade next to Devin McCourty, and this rookie is looking to claim it.

The Player

  • Kyle Dugger
  • Position: safety
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 219 pounds

In college, Kyle Dugger was primarily used as the deep safety in Lenoir-Rhyne’s defense. He was able to use his superior athleticism to dominate in that role, recording 10 interceptions and 36 pass deflections in four seasons. He had just as big of an influence in the kicking game, averaging 13.9 yards per punt return and totaling six return touchdowns, including a couple of ridiculous highlights.

He’s got the ability to be a game-changer for a new-look Patriots defense. Let’s check out the comparisons.

Pro Comparison

  • Terrell Edmunds
  • Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 216 pounds

First and foremost, it would be hard to pick these two out of a lineup if you covered their faces. Both stand at 6’1” and weigh in around 220 pounds. In addition to their frames, they share an affinity for stopping the run, making names for themselves in that department.

In 2018, Dugger and Edmunds had 78 and 76 tackles, respectively, leading their teams in that department.

Their tackling ability is powered mostly by their play recognition — both quickly process and diagnose what is happening mid-play. This is especially evident when they line up in the box. Both Dugger and Edmunds have a linebacker-like ability to read and react to the run.

In his transition to the NFL, Dugger will need to be better in coverage than Edmunds has been. Edmunds’ ball skills leave something to be desired, which is the major difference. Dugger’s are superb. But something they do have in common is the fact that they both play best when moving downhill.

If Dugger comes in and plays like Edmunds right away, you can call it a win for the Patriots. You’re not expecting a Pro Bowl season out of him, but with Chung missing, a steady hand on the back end of the defense with McCourty would be a blessing.

Patriot Comparison

  • Patrick Chung
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 215 pounds

This comparison is one for the long haul. Dugger has the size and physicality to fill in at the box safety/linebacker role. He also has the opportunity to get some reps at that spot with Chung’s opt-out.

The similarities on the field come in their physicality. Both Dugger and Chung use their strength to their advantage, especially in coverage.

The Patriots will look to avoid making the same mistake they made with Chung early on in his career. In his first stint in New England, Chung was utilized as a roaming free safety, where he would get lost at times. With McCourty in the mix, you can bet that Dugger will not be playing that role. There is a ready-made spot in the box that plays to Dugger’s strengths wide open for the taking.

The Patriots certainly would have preferred having Chung this season and bringing Dugger along slowly in a hybrid role, but those are the breaks. And, in Dugger’s case, a great opportunity to see what he is made of.

That will do it for the first installment. Who does Kyle Dugger remind you of? Share down in the comments or on Twitter @KeaganStiefel.