FAB 3. Dugger Shines At Senior Bowl
PewterReport.com had Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger projected to the Buccaneers in the fourth round of its initial 2020 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft prior to the Senior Bowl. The Bucs like Dugger, and after his great week in Mobile, Ala. it’s a certainty that every NFL team became a fan of the 6-foot, 220-pound versatile defensive back.
Forget the fourth round, Dugger is a lock as a Day 2 pick – potentially as high as the second round now.
Assuming Tampa Bay re-signs most of the team’s important unrestricted free agents this March, the Bucs will have three pressing needs heading into the 2020 NFL Draft in April – right tackle, running back and safety. Despite the fact that general manager Jason Licht and director of college scouting Mike Biehl have drafted a safety in each of the last three drafts in Justin Evans (second round, 2017), Jordan Whitehead (fourth round, 2018) and Mike Edwards (third round, 2019), the Bucs could make it four in a row this year.
That’s because Evans, a two-year starter at free safety, had two foot surgeries this past year that kept him out of the 2019, and while the team is hopefully optimistic that he can return to the field in 2020 there are no assurances he’ll be back to form until he actually practices again.
Whitehead emerged as a full-time starter at strong safety and played well until a hamstring injury at Detroit ended his season prematurely. Yet at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Whitehead lacks ideal size and is probably better suited to be the Bucs’ third safety on the depth chart rather than as a starter.
Undrafted free agent D’Cota Dixon was playing so well in training camp he may have gotten the starting nod over Whitehead if he hadn’t hurt his shoulder and wound up on injured reserve in August. The Bucs hope he can return to form in 2020 and be in the mix.
Edwards was slow to develop as a rookie, and the team had to re-sign veteran Andrew Adams to start at free safety for a good portion of the season. The team would love to see him start at free safety – ideally competing against Evans for that opportunity – in 2020.
Finding another versatile safety to throw into the mix is important, and Dugger would be a great fit in the third round for several reasons.
First, at a chiseled 220 pounds, Dugger would add some needed size to the Bucs’ secondary. Tampa Bay could use a bigger body to match up better against tight ends.
Second, Dugger was a ball hawk for the Bears, recording 10 interceptions and breaking up 36 passes, in addition to forcing six fumbles and recovering four. Tampa Bay’s safeties accounted for just two interceptions last year.
Dugger’s Lenoir-Rhyne Career Defensive Stats
2015: 43 tackles, 4 INTs, 10 PBUs, 2 FFs, 2 FRs, 2 blocks
2017: 87 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 1 INT, 7 PBUs, 2 FFs, 1 FR
2018: 76 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 INTs, 13 PBUs, 2 FFs, 3 FRs
2019: 31 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INTs, 6 PBUs
Third, Dugger can have an affect on special teams as a tackler and a punt returner, as he returned six punts for touchdowns at Lenoir-Rhyne and averaged 13.9 yards per return. Most rookies not drafted in the first round need to contribute on special teams and that’s an area where Dugger thrived.
“I definitely want to affect the game as much as possible, and that includes punt returns,” Dugger said. “I’m a defensive guy and we don’t get the ball a lot, so when I have the ball in my hands on special teams I want to help the offense out by putting points on the board or give them good field position.”
Dugger’s Lenoir-Rhyne Career Punt Return Stats
2015: 4 returns for 23 yards (5.8 avg.), 1 TD
2017: 20 returns for 197 yards (9.9 avg.), 1 TD
2018: 31 returns for 534 yards (17.2 avg.), 2 TDs
2019: 12 returns for 175 yards (14.6 avg.), 2 TDs
Having a shot at competing with FBS talent at the Senior Bowl meant everything to Dugger this past week.
“I want to compete with the best guys coming out this year and I’m trying to make some noise,” Dugger said. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a while because there aren’t many FBS level players at my school. I’m a versatile player that is focused and will figure things out – figure out how to be elite. I’m going to take things seriously and learn how to be a pro as quickly as possible.
“My strengths are my tackling, my physicality and my versatility. As far as weaknesses, it’s just trusting my eyes. It’s reading my keys, seeing it and believing it and going fast. I also feel like playing press-man against small receivers is something I need to work on – getting my hands on them at the line of scrimmage.”
In the span of one Senior Bowl practice Dugger dropped back in zone coverage as a single-high safety, came up in the box as a run support safety near the line of scrimmage, covered a tight end one-on-one and came away with an interception and covered a receiver in the slot. If he’s still around by the time the Bucs pick in the third round the hard-hitting Dugger could be in red and pewter.
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) January 22, 2020
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) January 22, 2020