The Patriots first pick of the draft came early on the second night with Lenoir-Rhyne's Kyle Dugger, and there is a lot to learn about the new safety.
Dugger landed at the Division II school in North Carolina after being passed up by all Division I programs, and in his first phone call with New England media, he made it clear that is something that will continue to fuel his fire.
"As far as a chip, yeah. It's definitely grown into a mountain on my shoulders. It's definitely something that's going to be permanent," Dugger said. "I'm going to carry it throughout my career as long as I have the opportunity to play the game."
Despite this, Dugger thrived in his small school community, where he was a captain. Though he played in just seven games in his final season at Lenoir-Rhyne due to injury, Dugger still earned the Cliff Harris award, which is given to the country's small college defensive player of the year.
According to a feature in The Athletic, Dugger is a hard worker. When he wasn't traveling with the team, he would spend his weekends in the gym. His game notes were thorough and organized. Though it wasn't until his senior year that Dugger truly got attention from NFL scouts, when he did, they were all in.
In high school, Dugger played basketball in addition to football, and at the time, he was primarily playing running back. As it turns out, the sport runs in the family. His brother played basketball at LaGrange University and his mother, Kim Oates Dugger, is a Hall of Fame basketball player for Fort Valley State University. In a recent interview with her alma mater, she said that her son's journey will inspire others.
"One thing for sure, Kyle will motivate many young people to stick to the plan, regardless of how often you are told, 'It will never happen.' Push through the doubt," Oates Dugger said.
Outside of football, Dugger has applied that determination to his studies, as well. Dugger studied engineering physics and psychology, and for his senior project, he and his classmates (and also teammates) developed a laser-timed 40-yard dash timer.
The idea was to make the timer even more accurate than the current Combine model.
In an interview with Draft Wire, Dugger said engineering was just a stepping stone to becoming an architect, which he hopes to purse after his football career.
"I love having the ability to create. I love the structure of it and how I'm able to put together an idea. It's all about bringing that idea to life and I think that's pretty cool," he said. "The possibilities are limitless. It's all about letting your mind get into a creative space."
In both football and his dream to become an architect, Dugger's mentality is all about doing the hard work and making it happen.
Consider one dream officially checked off. Welcome to New England, Kyle.