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.

Lenoir-Rhyne SS Kyle Dugger
Lenoir-Rhyne SS Kyle Dugger – Photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne

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.

Bucs FS Mike Edwards
Bucs FS Mike Edwards – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

Lenoir-Rhyne SS Kyle Dugger
Lenoir-Rhyne SS Kyle Dugger – Photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne

“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.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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Wausa

If what you are saying is accurate then the Bucs should adjust their offense to a more balanced attack, put the transition tag on Jamies and draft a developmental QB in the middle rounds of the draft.

If the Bucs do not sign or tag Jamies it is fairly obvious he will be signed quickly by another franchise if he hits the open market.

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matador

Hopefully someone within our division. That would help our DB’s stats more than a strong pash rush

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BigSombrero

If the Bucs cut bait with Jameis, I hope they bring in a smart veteran who has a strong accurate arm. Maybe they can trade for Ben Rothlisberger. He’s played in a Bruce Arians offense. If the Bucs draft the 4th best tackle in the 1st round with plans to switch him from left to right tackle and the 4th or 5th best RB in the 2nd, who here expects the running game to turn the corner? I say take the pick and use it on a guy who immediately improves the W/L column. The Bucs can get the #1… Read more »

BigSombrero

I value production over projection. Specific players I favor for the Bucs at 14 are #2 DE Gross-Matos, #1 RB J.Taylor, #2 DT Kinlaw, and #1 S Grant Delpit in that order.

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tbb345

IF a large chunk of Arians decision on Jameis is based off of one play in a meaningless game where his top 2 targets were missing (let alone the fact that he was showing toughness by playing through a thumb injury) then this franchise has very, very serious problems with its evaluation process.

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matador

What if it’s based on five years of killing his team’s chances with blockheaded turnovers? Then what would you think?

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CrackerBall

I think 72 games is a large enough sample size…

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awwdembucs

Alot of guessing here. I think we as fan’s will know more after we see what the Bucs do in FA.

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Badtimes

I think Arians started having misgivings about Winston well before the last game.

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Brandonges

After three straight years of drafting Safety, please bring in a vet. There are a lot of free agents available who should come relatively cheap. This draft should be all about getting younger and cheaper in both of the trenches.

Also, as a homer, surprised Cam Akers isn’t generating more buzz. He carried the FSU offense behind a garbage line. He has good hands and looks like a 3 down back built for today’s NFL.

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CrackerBall

Agreed… I think we have drafted enough S, and DBs in general, over the last few years – so sign a F/A if you feel the need. Gotta try and make’em work. Save that valuable draft capital for OL, DL, QB, etc.

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Horse

Good Fab 5 Scott. Is it possible all the pewterreport staff when discussing players, who are not Buccaneers, be consistent in listing their height and weight?.

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The Wall

Top four needs; right tackle, right guard, running back, then safety.

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EastEndBoy

1) “Licht shouldn’t have re-signed him at all”…another Licht gaff. 2) Safety??…good grief, how many swings at the plate is Licht going to get before he’s called out. 3) “move Donovan Smith to RT”…he couldn’t do worse than at LT, but $14.5m for a RT is insane. Licht has backed us into a corner with this problem. 4) and finally, why is the conclusion that a team can’t win with a young QB? Why do we have to bring in a veteran if we don’t want Winston? Goff as a rookie won 9 games (and in year 2 went to… Read more »

Horse

EastEndBoy, so agree with you.

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Brandonges

Agree, especially on the last point. Lamar Jackson is probably going to win MVP in his second season. Plenty of teams have found success with young QBs.

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DonkeyHunter

Agree with all this.

And, can we PLEASE stop with this “move Smith to RT” nonsense?

It’s about as ridiculous as the “Draft a RB in the 1st Round” nonsense.

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FinkleisEinhorn

#2: I agree with the comment above. Very surprised at the lack of chatter on Cam Akers, especially considering PR’s ties to FSU. This guy is a monster and was FSU’s entire offense. If he had played for LSU, he’d be talked about as a 1st round pick. Grab him the 3rd and don’t look back.

#3: The thing I’m most impressed with Dugger? He actually specified his weaknesses when asked. Shows maturity, humility and self-awareness.

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Horse

I agree about Cam Akers, but he’s going to be picked up in the second round not the third.

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Horse

Those of you who voted negatives I didn’t watch FSU games like I did reminds me of many other successful running backs that have played in the NFL. He’s strong quick and fast and can catch a ball. I hope he stays under the radar so we can grab him. FSU has not had a good offensive line these last 3 years and he still did good; think about that as it’s similar to the Bucs.

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awwdembucs

Horse Akers can play, he’s tough as nails and can catch well also. The thing is nobody seems to know what round to draft him.

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Alldaway 2.0

Bucs are better off re-signing AA then drafting another green safety that will not start next season and will ride the pine.

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Buc-Up

When I was at FSU I took a Seminole Conditioning Class by the team’s strength coach in Soring ’91. I worked out with both Casey Weldon and Brad Johnson. I was way underwhelmed by Casey’s spare tire and lack of physique. He was in no way intimidating and seemed like an asshat! Brad was tall and built like a brick house, plus a very nice guy!

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Horse

After NFL, Weldon was a Head Coach for one of the High Schools in Tallahassee; because of anger issues had to be let go. He knows football but back then he hadn’t dealt with his anger issues yet. I hope he addressed it. Mark Cook do you know?

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MIArmysoldier

Scott- I remember Casey Weldon comming to my scool in Bradenton in ’96. I remember him being extremely cocky and arrogant. He was supposed to be there to give a talk on self motivation and being a team player. It basically was him talking about absolutely nothing nothing, he threw a few passes to couple of people and ended with him takung a few pics for our yearbook. The only time he really even smiled was when those pics were taken- but no guys were in the pics- it was him surrounded by a group of teenage girls a giggly… Read more »

awwdembucs

I watched the east west game. The QB Morgan looked good. Strong arm can run if need be. If he is still on the board 5th or 6th. The Bucs might want to think about him. He needs some good coaching but stranger things have happened. Just a Thought

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owlykat

Get a first round LT. Moving D. Smith to RT would be a disaster since speed rushers would have as much of a hay day on the right side as they presently do from the left side. Move him to RG and let Cappa start at RT.

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Bucsfan1983

Wirfs, Dobbins, Dugger, are my first 3 picks for the Bucs. I would be beyond thrilled for these three.

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David DeLeon

Bucs higher up need to have their poker face on. “Winston we are not sure we want you” wait till close to deadline and try to hustle on the price tag.

Instead of 30 million we sign him for 26-28 million.

Everyone is happy

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