Of all the positions that it seemed the Vikings wouldn't use a pick on, tight end was probably topping the list. With the re-signing of Jim Kleinsasser, the free agent signing of Jermaine Wiggins and a couple of young players the Vikings have been grooming, the position seemed full – so much so that veteran Hunter Goodwin was released so he could have more time to find another job.
So it came as something of a surprise when the team used its final pick in the 2004 draft to take Maryland tight end Jeff Dugan. Dugan, who played with last year's No. 2 pick E.J. Henderson and was roommates with quarterback Shaun Hill, had waited a long time to hear his name and was wondering if was going to happen.
"I was hoping I would be (drafted)," Dugan told VU. "I didn't really know where I'd go. I just kind of played it by ear because you talk to people and you don't really know what's what (with your draft standing)."
A fifth-year senior, Dugan earned a reputation as one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the Class of 2004. A durable player, he played in 49 games in his career – starting 46 of them. But, despite having as much experience as any tight end in the draft, he isn't taking anything for granted. When asked what part of his game he feels to elevate to the next level, he was brutally honest.
"I'm sure I have to work on everything a little bit," Dugan said. "I have to step up blocking and receiving just as an all-around player because everyone is better, bigger, stronger and faster (in the NFL)."
The fight now begins for Dugan to try to crack one of the deepest positions on the team and, in the hopes of the Vikings coaches, become a younger version of Goodwin in the coming years.
Dugan Up For Roster Challenge
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