NFL Rumors: If Patriots Wanted Kyle Dugger, They Had to Pick Him at No. 37

There were reportedly several other teams picking after the Patriots that had shown interest in the Div. 2 safety.
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The most controversial pick the New England Patriots made during the 2020 NFL Draft was selecting Div. 2 safety Kyle Dugger with the 37th overall pick. 

It was a controversial pick for two reasons: 1) safety wasn't a top need for New England in the draft 2) picking a small-school prospect that high in the draft is a rare occurrence, and rightfully given the gap in talent/play between Div. 2 and the NFL. Though Dugger is undoubtedly talented, there was concern as to how his game would transition after playing for five seasons at Lenoir-Rhyne. 

However, it turns out if the Patriots wanted Dugger, they had to pick him at No. 37, otherwise he might have been gone come their next pick. According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, there were several teams behind New England in the draft order that might have taken Dugger if he was still on the board when it was their turn to draft. 

"Dugger was just as popular in the final week before the draft," Howe wrote. "The Bills (picking at No. 54 overall), Steelers (No. 49) and Panthers (No. 38) all showed the most interest, and every member of the Panthers front office visited Hickory last season, according to the Lenoir-Rhyne coaches."

The previous thought here on PatriotMaven was that New England may have been able to avoid criticism by drafting Michigan linebacker Josh Uche with pick 37, and then used pick 60 - which they got by trading with the Ravens - to select Dugger. However, it turns out if the Patriots had taken Uche early in the second round, then Dugger may have no been available in the backend of the round. 

In Bill we trust, I guess. If Dugger pans out, then Bill Belichick will look like a genius. But if he doesn't, then Belichick will be heavily criticized for selecting a small-school prospect that early in the draft. Only time will tell how this situation plays out.