BOSTON (CBS) — By now, just about everyone has caught up on the fact that despite his spot on a Division II roster, Kyle Dugger is an NFL-caliber athlete who had done enough in his workouts and at the Senior Bowl to ensure that he would be drafted. What remains a bit of a question mark is whether the Patriots really had to make their move with the 37th overall pick to select Dugger.
According to one story, it seems that it might have been necessary.
The Athletic’s Jeff Howe wrote an expansive feature on Dugger’s background this week. In the story, Howe noted that Dugger ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash in front of a Seahawks coach after his junior season, a sprint that garnered major NFL attention for Dugger — something slightly uncommon for a player on the roster of the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears.
And according to Howe, three teams that showed the most interest in Dugger were the Buffalo Bills, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Carolina Panthers. The Patriots were — as we know now — interested but kept that interest mostly to themselves.
Howe noted that when the Patriots traded down from No. 23 overall in the first round, they landed at No. 37 overall — one spot in front of the Panthers.
“Director of player personnel Nick Caserio said [the Patriots] identified Dugger as one of three players they hoped to get during the second and third rounds,” Howe wrote. “If they didn’t take him at No. 37, they probably weren’t getting him.”
David Cole, one of Dugger’s collegiate coaches, told Howe that someone with the Bills had said that Buffalo would “definitely” pick Dugger if he was available at 54th overall.
When the Patriots were on the clock at No. 37, the next pick they owned was at No. 71 overall. The team obviously wanted Dugger and likely had a strong feeling that the player would be gone by the time their next pick came around.