There will be no lack of pundits who say that Bill Belichick's dog was the one who pulled the trigger on the selection of a safety from that powerhouse football factory of Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory, NC. And while that is not true, I would rather have that two-different-colored-eyes Alaskan Klee Nike Brinkley making that call than any of the other 31 NFL general managers.
But more to the point, this was a classic Belichick move.
Did I see it coming with the 37th pick in the draft? Not necessarily. As much as I am The Belichick Whisperer and the unquestioned worldwide leader when it comes to predicting whom he'll draft and when, I can only honestly say I knew he was on the Patriots radar. And not definitively declaring they would select him. From me,mere hours before the draft began:
Small Schools, Big Upsides:
Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne. 6-1, 217 lb, 4.49
It might have been easy to dismiss Dugger's explosive tackling, cover skills, size and speed when he was doing it all in Hickory, NC. But as South Bend learned the hard way at the Butler Field House in 1954, don't ever underestimate the guys from Hickory. More to the point, so did everyone at the Senior Bowl where Dugger looked just as dominant. He's got range, he's the flat out best hitter in the 2020 safety class. And versatile enough he could probably transfer his skills to the corner, though he's said no teams he's met with have mentioned that. Oh, and if you like touchdowns without having your offense on the field, he did a lot of that too, with six career punt return TDs. He's expected to be a Round 2 pick, and he'll be one of the most interest picks regardless of where he ends up.
Compares to the Other Leading Brand: Terrell Edmunds
So I will not be chalking this up to another successful pick on my ever-expanding resume of almost clairvoyant predictions. Instead, I'll just simply say I wasn't far off. Remind you the most accurate picks are yet to come. And appreciate what a wild selection this is.
I can't imagine what life must be like covering a team less interesting than the 2020 Patriots.