New England Patriots

Patriots Tab Kyle Dugger with Top Pick in 2020 NFL Draft

Dugger is the first player to be drafted out of a Division II school by the Patriots since 2014

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The Patriots have made their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and it's a player from a school you've likely never heard of.

With the 37th overall pick, New England selected safety Kyle Dugger out of Lenoir-Rhyne University, an NCAA Division II school in Hickory, North Carolina.

Dugger, who stands 6-foot-1, 217 pounds, is the first player to be selected out of a Division II program within the first three rounds of the draft since 2006, when the Bears picked defensive back Danieal Manning out of Division II Abilene Christian 42nd overall.

Dugger, a native of Decatur, Georgia, turned 24 on March 22. He redshirted his first season at Lenoir-Rhyne in 2014 and received a medical redshirt in 2016 following an injury. Though he appeared in just seven games in 2019, he was named winner of the Cliff Harris Award, given annually to the top defensive player in Division II.

He's the sixth player to become the top draft pick in a given year by the Patriots without going in the first round under Bill Belichick, after New England traded out of the first round Thursday night for the pick used to selected Dugger and the 71st overall pick.

The Patriots are seemingly set at safety, with starters Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung back. But as both players will be 33 years old by opening day, this is a move with an eye towards the future. New England also traded third safety Duron Harmon to the Lions earlier in the off-season.

It's not the first time the Patriots have turned to the Division II ranks in the draft under Belichick. In 2014, the team selected defensive end Zach Moore out of Concordia-St. Paul in Minnesota in the sixth round. Danny Woodhead, who attended Division II Chadron State (Nebraska), played for New England from 2010-12.


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Dugger had six returns for scores while at Lenoir-Rhyne, six punts and one interception return for a touchdown.

The Patriots swung a trade back into the second round later on, acquiring the 60th overall pick from the Ravens, along with the 129th pick, in exchange for two third rounders (Nos. 71 and 98). With the pick, the team selected Michigan linebacker Josh Uche.

Uche (6-foot-1, 245 pounds) is the second player in as many seasons to be drafted by the Patriots out of Michigan, following Chase Winovich in the third round in 2019.

New England still has two picks in the third round, Nos. 87 and 100 overall.

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