No matter what school you root for, if you're a college football fan, you've heard of Bruce Feldman's yearly publication of his "Freaks List". I'm not even going to say unless you were living under a rock, because some of the athletes Feldman finds are so impressive that even the rock you live under would have heard about it and told you.
Feldman has been counting down from 50, the total number of players on his list. On Thursday, he released the names and insane athletic findings for those ranked 11-20. Within that list there are names such as Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs, who has been clocked in the 4.2s in the 40-yard dash. There's Boston College running back A.J. Dillon, who has a 40-inch vertical jump at 250 pounds. And Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore, the Buckeyes killer from last year who can squat over three times his body weight.
But as much as we still love to marvel at the athletic numbers of those guys, they're already known. Those numbers next to their names only confirm what we already knew: that they're must-watch TV every time they touch the ball.
Thankfully for us draft fans, Feldman doesn't just highlight the big names. He also digs deep to find some diamonds in the rough -- which brings us to the point of this article. Coming in at No. 19 on his Freaks List this year was Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger.
Despite having one of the top athletes in the country at their school, most of you likely don't know where Lenoir-Rhyne is. It's a small D-II school in Hickory, North Carolina. The Lenoir-Rhyne Bears may not be well known nationally but they are historic. Their football program has been around since 1907. But even with more than 100 years of games in their books, I bet they've never had anyone like Dugger wear their red and black.
So why should we, an NFL Draft site, care about Dugger? Let's start with an excerpt from Feldman's profile on him.
The 6-2, 217-pounder is a late bloomer from Atlanta with big-time athleticism. Dugger has run a verified 4.41 40 for scouts. Even more impressively, he’s vertical jumped 40 inches and broad jumped 11 feet. He also did 20 reps on the bench of 225 this offseason and timed 6.7 in the 3-cone drill, which would have been the second quickest time among safeties at the NFL Combine in 2019.
It doesn't matter what position we're talking about here, those numbers would be elite for anyone. Which is a good way to intro into some of the film I found on Dugger when searching to learn more about him.
After taking two redshirt seasons, one as a true freshman and the other in a medical redshirt season going into his sophomore year, Dugger enters 2018 as a senior. He's been a starter for all three seasons he has played in, mainly at the safety position.
When you pop in Dugger's film it's honestly hard not to laugh because of how much bigger, stronger and faster he is than everyone on the field. There are times where he has five or ten yards of a head start before he makes the tackle where I actually think he might kill someone with a hit.
The play above shows an example of why. Dugger earned the Ronnie Lott Heavy Hitter Award in 2017.
But part of me wonders if safety is even the best position for him. I really do wonder if Dugger's size and skill profile would make him a better linebacker than safety at the next level.
We see teams in the NFL love to use package linebackers in nickel defenses. Most of the time that's with a bigger safety. Where Dugger is definitely fast, he's not quick-twitched like you really need full-time defensive backs to be at the NFL level. If I'm being honest here, I instead see a lot of Devin Bush in Dugger's game, rather than any successful safety comp. Both Dugger and Bush move similarly, and if you remember Bush's Combine numbers, he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash with a 40 inch vertical jump with 21 reps on the bench, too. All of those numbers are very similar to Dugger's.
And heck, if that doesn't work...
Maybe you could play Dugger at running back. He's Lenoir-Rhyne's punt returner, and he obviously has good balance and burst.
As you would expect, there isn't a ton of film out there readily available on Dugger. However, I still wanted to give you all a little intro into what he could do with what I could find before I start getting some more legit tape to analyze during his senior season.
I would love to see Dugger play more of a linebacker role this season for the Bears, but with him being a safety this long I don't think I'll get my wish. Regardless, Dugger clearly has the athleticism and the size to play in the league, or at least get a shot -- playing in the pros is more than just how you move. I think he's a bit stiff laterally to play defensive back, but I think the NFL can find a place for him. And that means you need to do what you need to do to get some D-II film when fixing your big boards this season.