This is the time of the year when “why” questions start to become louder.
For example, if a highly touted quarterback has all the physical tools teams are looking for but isn’t accurate, then questions like “Why is this player rated so high?” starts to build. And the reverse is true. If a player dominated at a lower division level but has elite athletic traits and measurables, then the question of “Why isn’t this player rated higher?” starts to crescendo.
That’s where Lenoir-Rhyne senior safety Kyle Dugger enters the picture.
Why isn’t he considered a first-round prospect?
“It all lines up,” Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy said, via Michael Fairburn of The Athletic. “He’s actually — when you break it all down, other than playing D2 football — everything aligns. There’s really no holes. Those are the guys that general managers feel good about taking off the board. Then you go into the school and they talk about him the way they talk about him at Lenoir Rhyne, what don’t you feel good about?”
Indeed, Dugger checks a lot of boxes. During Senior Bowl week, Dugger measured just under 6-foot-1, 217 pounds at the Senior Bowl, while his hand size (10 1/8) was tied for the largest among all the DBs and his arms (32 3/4) were the longest. He’s also expected to run his 40 in the low 4.4s and has recorded a broad jump of 10 feet, 11 inches.
Translation: Dugger could be a Scouting Combine star when it takes place Feb. 23-March 2.
— NFL (@NFL) February 16, 2020
Dugger, who underwent a big growth spurt after high school but was lightly recruited, still presents a bit of challenge for NFL scouts and analysts. Simply put, if he had played at a bigger school, then the evaluation would be much easier.
“If there’s a big D-I team on the schedule, that’s the first tape you look at,” an AFC scout told Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. “If it’s a DB, you want to find the tape of him playing against the best quarterback or wide receiver on the schedule. This kid’s problem is, he doesn’t really have that tape that puts him head-to-head against another draftable guy. So, it’s more of a projection.”
That’s why the Combine will be so crucial in the evaluation process for Dugger.
But if the Senior Bowl serves as an indication, then Dugger’s stock will continue to rise.
“Regardless of background or school, Dugger was one of the best players on the field,” writes The Athletic’s Dane Brugler after a Senior Bowl practice. “He controls his feet very well in coverage to mirror backs or tight ends, flashing some burst out of his plant-and-drive. Dugger is rarely out of phase due to his timing and instincts. In the run game, he showed bent knees and long arms (32 3/4 inches) to take on and dispose of blockers, quickly finding the ballcarrier to make a play. With his play recognition and natural twitch, Dugger could start at safety or linebacker at the next level.”
Dugger is currently the No. 102-ranked prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Steve big board.