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Kyle Dugger could be the Redskins’ answer at free safety

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2020 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Dugger, S
School: Lenoir-Rhyne | Conference: South Atlantic (D2)
College Experience: Senior | Age: 24
Height / Weight: 6’1” / 217 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Round 1 or 2
NFL Comparison: Terrell Edmunds

Career Statistics:

Defensive Statistics

Year Team G Class Pos Solo Ast Tot Loss Sack Int FF
Year Team G Class Pos Solo Ast Tot Loss Sack Int FF
2017 Lenoir-Rhyne 10 Soph DB 57 30 87 4.5 0 1 2
2018 Lenoir-Rhyne 14 Junior DB 50 26 76 1 0 3 2
2019 Lenoir-Rhyne 10 Senior S 30 13 43 1 0 4 2

Player Overview

Dugger’s ascension into the consciousness of NFL draft followers has been near meteoric over the course of the past few months. Hailing from tiny Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC (a school that hasn’t had a player drafted in 20 years), Dugger’s incredible athleticism and dominance of his Division 2 peers caught the attention of NFL scouts despite playing on a relatively small stage.

In 2018, as a junior, Dugger was not only a defensive force in the secondary, collecting 76 tackles, 10 passes defended, 3 INTs, and two fumble recoveries, he also excelled as a return specialist, averaging 17.2 yards per punt return (and 20 yards per kick return) and taking two returns to the house.

Dugger had a hand injury during a portion of his senior season and only started 7 games. Nevertheless, he was able to get second team All American recognition, accumulating 43 tackles, 4 passes defended, and 2 INTs. He was also a Senior Bowl stand-out, showing he had no problem hanging with top tier college competition.

Strengths

  • Elite athlete with comps to some of the best safeties in recent memory (e.g., Eric Berry, Derwin James).
  • Solid tackler. Elite lateral agility.
  • Very competitive.
  • Great leadership qualities. Two-time team captain.
  • Could immediately be an elite special teamer.

Weaknesses

  • Level of competition (D2).
  • Tends to be a reactive defender. Needs to work on mental processing of the game.
  • Needs to work on man coverage skills.
  • His versatility is both a strength and a question mark. There’s some disagreement about where he fits at the NFL (linebacker, safety, nickel).
  • Older (24) for a draft pick.

Let’s See His Work

How He Would Fit

With the spotlight firmly shone on Dugger at this point, the reality is he could easily end up being a first or second round draft pick. If that’s the case, the only way the Redskins could even consider taking him is with either a trade back from the #2 spot or some very generous trade compensation for Trent Williams. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth profiling him here both because he seems to fit the defensive positional flexibility that both Rivera and Del Rio seem to crave and because I think the prospects of some sort of trade back involving capital in the late first and/or early second rounds are better than zero.

A player like Dugger could immediately become a difference maker on special teams - in the same way Terry McLaurin was anticipated to perform last year - as well as high ceiling competition for several of the secondary and linebacking positions.