4 potential defensive team MVPs for the New England Patriots in 2023

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders / Michael Owens/GettyImages
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Kyle Dugger

One of the rising stars of the Patriots' defense, Kyle Dugger is expected to have an increased role this upcoming year, especially with the absence of longtime captain Devin McCourty.

Of course, he's not expected to fill McCourty's shoes, although he may be capable of doing so at some point in his career. But Dugger has set the bar high for himself as he continues to improve every season.

As one of the most versatile players on the team, Dugger's ability to be put into essentially any position within the secondary makes him an invaluable piece to the defense that makes opposing offenses uncomfortable. And in just three seasons in New England, he's already accomplished that.

His progression through these past three seasons is not something to overlook. Because he attended a Division II school and entered the league at 24, many fans and media members wrote him off before he stepped onto an NFL football field. Fortunately for the Patriots, he quickly made the doubters into fools, especially with his memorable performance last season.

Like several of his teammates, the 2022 season was one of if not the best, season of his career. Through 15 games, Dugger totaled 78 combined tackles, five tackles for a loss, three interceptions returned for 55 yards and two touchdowns, eight passes defended, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown, as well.

Now that he's earned his veteran stripes, seeing how Belichick uses him in every game and how his influence will help the younger members on the defensive roster will be intriguing.

Regardless of where he lines up or who he's poised to cover, we know that Dugger will put it all on the field and be one of the most impactful players on the roster.