FILE - In this March 1, 2020, file photo, Lenoir-Rhyne defensive back Kyle Dugger runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. Dugger made Hickory, North Carolina, a must stop for NFL scouts last fall.

FILE – On this March 1, 2020, file picture, Lenoir-Rhyne defensive again Kyle Dugger runs a drill on the NFL soccer scouting mix in Indianapolis. Dugger made Hickory, North Carolina, a should cease for NFL scouts final fall.

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After buying and selling out of the primary spherical on Day 1 of the NFL draft, the Patriots went to Tobacco Highway to make just a little historical past on Day 2.

New England chosen safety Kyle Dugger out of Lenoir-Rhyne College 37th general in the second spherical Friday night time. The Patriots’ choose marked the primary time an NFL group has chosen a Division II safety through the first three rounds because the Chicago Bears took Danieal Manning in the second spherical in 2006.

Later the Patriots moved up, buying and selling the 71st and 98th general picks (each in the third spherical) to Baltimore for the 60th and 129th (fourth spherical) picks. New England used the 60th choose to take Michigan linebacker Josh Uche and added Alabama edge rusher Anfernee Jennings in the third spherical (87th general).

The Patriots then moved again into the third spherical, receiving the 91st and 159th (fourth spherical) picks from Las Vegas in alternate for No. 100 (third spherical), No. 139 (fourth spherical) and No. 172 (fifth spherical). They used No. 91 to select UCLA tight finish Devin Asiasi.

A flexible defender and particular groups participant throughout his five-year profession on the North Carolina faculty (enrollment 2,700), it took some time for Dugger to get on NFL executives’ radar after coming into highschool in Georgia at simply 5-foot-6 and 140 kilos.

However the 24-year-old grew to 6–1, 217 kilos by his senior season at Lenior-Rhyne in 2019, incomes the Cliff Harris Award as the highest small-school faculty defensive participant regardless of taking part in in simply seven video games due to a finger harm. He completed his profession with 10 profession interceptions and 6 punt returns for touchdowns.

Dugger mentioned coming from Division II to discovering out he had been drafted by New England felt surreal.

“Most likely the closest factor would undoubtedly be Christmas,” he mentioned.

Dugger is the primary Lenoir-Rhyne participant to be drafted since defensive finish John Milem was taken by San Francisco in the fifth spherical in 2000.

The Patriots might be searching for the 6-1, 245-pound Uche to assist rebuild at linebacker after they misplaced Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts in free company. That trio mixed for 117 tackles and 14 1/2 sacks in 2019.

Jennings earned a first-team All-SEC choice as a senior, main the Crimson Tide with eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

Uche didn’t begin a single sport throughout his first three seasons at Michigan, regardless of incomes All-Massive Ten honors his junior yr, posting seven sacks.

He began 9 of the Wolverines’ 13 video games as a senior, main the group with eight 1/2 sacks and incomes second-team all-conference honors. Uche performed on each the sting and on the within, giving New England a number of choices to work him into the scheme.

He’ll be a part of a unit that additionally options former Michigan teammate and defensive finish Chase Winovich, whom the Patriots drafted in the third spherical final yr.

“That was my boy,” Uche mentioned. “It’s simply nice to have that chemistry again presumably.”

Dugger mentioned he spoke with the Patriots a number of occasions all through the draft course of, together with a number of conversations with coach Invoice Belichick.

A Georgia native, Dugger comes from a household of athletes. His mom, Kimberly Dugger, performed basketball for Fort Valley State College in the 1980s and was inducted into the college’s athletic corridor of fame. His older brother, Patrick, performed at Lagrange (Ga.) Faculty from 2012 to 2014.

Dugger was thought of to be a prime prospect in a robust small-school class that additionally consists of offensive lineman Ben Bartch of St. Johns (Minnesota), working again James Robinson of Illinois State, tight ends Charlie Taumoepeau of Portland State and Adam Trautman of Dayton.

Three of the 4, in addition to Dugger, have been on the Senior Bowl. All 5 acquired NFL mix invites.

Dugger mentioned the Senior Bowl look was the icing on a senior season in which he drew not less than one consultant from each NFL group to Lenoir-Rhyne’s campus in Hickory, North Carolina.

“It simply gave me a possibility to type of solidify what I already knew, that I may play at this stage,” Dugger mentioned.

He’ll now have a shot to compete for a spot on a secondary that has a gap after New England traded safety Duron Harmon to the Lions. Dugger additionally could have an opportunity to be taught from a pair of 10-year veterans in Patriots beginning safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung.

“I’ve watched them play for a very long time and I do know quite a bit about their versatility, how they will do something you ask of a DB on the soccer subject,” Dugger mentioned. “So to have the ability to be taught from guys who’ve performed at a stage that prime and have accomplished it properly for therefore lengthy, it’s an enormous honor.”