Patriots Hard-Hitting Safety Expected to Breakout in 2022

New England Patriots

Getty Kyle Dugger

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n a short period of time, Kyle Dugger has established himself as a crucial part of the New England Patriots defense.

While the Patriots rose eyebrows across the league when they selected Dugger in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft out of Lenoir-Rhyne University, he has done quite well for himself. The Division II star had an impressive second season in the league. Dugger racked up 92 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 5 pass deflections, 4 interceptions and a fumble recovery.

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He missed only 8.9% of his attempts this past year while recording at least 5 tackles in all but four of his 15 games played.

“He appears to be more comfortable with his role and will rarely give up a big play now that he’s adapted to the pro game,” Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay wrote. “The rising star safety will likely shine even brighter in 2022.”


How Important Will Dugger Be in 2022?

The Patriots will need Dugger to continue to perform well in 2022. New England’s secondary will need to step up to fill the massive hole left by the departure of J.C. Jackson.

At safety, the Patriots are actually in a good position. New England has a deep group featuring veteran Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, and of course Dugger. All of these players have the ability to play at the line of scrimmage as well as in the secondary.

The same confidence can’t be had in the group of cornerbacks on New England’s roster. Malcolm Butler is slated to be the top corner in New England after missing the entirety of the 2021 season due to being retired.

Dugger will have to show that he is a jack of all trades in 2022. He will need to do just as well in coverage as he does attacking the ball in the backfield.


What Are Dugger’s Teammates Saying About Him?

Entering the 2022 season, Dugger is getting plenty of praise from his teammates. Patriots veteran Devin McCourty thinks that Dugger has the potential to grow into a major player in New England.

“I love Dug,” McCourty told reporters on June 9, via NESN. “The way he’s able to not care about what people are saying about him, what he’s done in the past — being a DII player — he doesn’t care about any of that. Dug shows up, can do everything, can play in the deep part of the field, can cover.

“Obviously, if you watched any of our games, you know he can knock your head off. I just love watching him grow. I think sky’s the limit for him.”

McCourty thinks that Dugger could be a future leader in New England.

“He wants to do the right things on the field, and I think that’s the recipe not only to be a good player — especially in this system to be one of the better safeties — but also to be the leader of this team and of the defense going forward,” he said. “Watching him develop and doing those things has been fun, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to develop in the future.”

So Patriots fans should be excited about what Dugger has the potential to do in 2022. He will be a key part of New England’s defense and a part of a three-headed monster at the safety position.

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